Monday, September 04, 2006

Common platform for online

Interesting story on the Editor and Publisher web site about the need in the newspaper industry for a Marshall Plan like manifesto for the industry.

When I read stories like this it is hard to keep the eyes from glazing over because so much of it is based in the finances of journalism and the more alturistic quality of journalism I am more interested in. I know the finances are important, but in my academic encased cocoon finances are a really small part of what I'm concerned with. We get a pretty good subsidy from the school's student government. Still, the extra income we generate through advertising makes like a lot easier than if it weren't there.

But I digress. Several statements in the article did hit home. Things like:
Not only is the shift towards online; it is, in tandem, a shift away from print. Not dramatic yet, perhaps—but clear. And the impacts continue to ripple.
Newspapers gain by moving onto common platforms
While that last one is largely based in finances again, it also talks about the value of networks in getting more readers. True, at community colleges we are more interested in training our students to report and write than we are in building large audiences, it is imperative that we let our students know that audiences DO count. And we are so far behind with online.

I like the idea of a common online format so that we can build on what we already do. And while Robert Mercer has problems with a common platform like College Publisher that still thinks in terms of issue-to-issue rather than minute-to-minute (he's not wrong!), most of us still think in those terms, and so do our students.

Whether College Publisher is the right common platform or not, if we are to look at some kind of common platform, it really is the only one out there for us. (Sorry if I sound like a shill for CP, but I really am thinking about what's best for JACC schools.) About 50 JACC schools are online and half of those through College Publisher. If the other half were to join today we'd account for 10 percent of all of the schools using the platform. While that would not translate into 10 percent of the online traffic because bigger universities draw far more online traffic than we do (and thus generate more $$$ from ad views), we'd be a significant 10 percent. We could go to College Publisher and have a basis for asking for network-within-a-network tools. So our reporter fails to get that baseball story, maybe the other college did and we at least link to it. Our readers win.

golferNow, I believe in diversity, too. Really great ideas come from it. But at some point diversity narrows to standardization, which allows for a new form of diversity to grow. Some days when I'm playing golf I like to play scatter golf. That's where everyone hits and then moves the ball to whereever the best shot landed. That way the lagging shot does not put you perpetually behind. You get to catch up and try from an even platform again. I'm thinking that's what we need to do with online platforms. We still have room for diversity from the new vantage point.


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