Local newspaper embracing technologies to connect with readers

I’ve never been much of a reader of newspapers. Even before the internets launched and Craig destroyed the newsprint’s revenue, I didn’t read them much. Not being a liberal, socialist, communist, or hater of all things moral and good, I have tended to be less interested in the hot air produced by the majority of those creating content for the typical printed news.

Of course, on occasion I have found a copy of something printed in my hot little hands.

In my new community, there is a crisis happening to the local printed news industry. Down in Santa Barbara, there is the Santa Barbara News Press. There really isn’t anything else, similar in influence and size, competing with the News Press, so they’ve always done what they want. I’m not too knowledgeable regarding the details of the scandal, but something big has been going on with the News Press for a couple of years. I’ve heard something about the publisher, and some really crappy leadership she has provided. The employees seem to have been screwed, and they’re ticked off about it. Several of the loudest voices have left the News Press and found a home at the little, lesser known, Santa Barbara Independent.

The publisher is Wendy McCaw. The staff organized and voted to unionize. McCaw has behaved at least unethically, if not illegally, in her dealings with the attempted unionization.

That’s the focus of this post. The Independent, from now on known as the “SB Indie”.

As most are probably aware, the Santa Barbara hillsides are on fire. As I write this, fire fighting efforts have been going on for 5 days, and over 8000 acres have burned. Many homes are threatened and hundreds of families are on evacuation orders. I’m not in any danger, where I live, but my place of work resides at the bottom of one of those hills.

Over the recent days, my coworkers and myself have aggresively tried to keep up on the important information regarding the fire. On the first day, I spent hours online, seeking timely information. Oddly enough, I quickly found out that the SB Indie was providing the best information. Why, I have no idea.

However, because of this up-to-date information, I have continued to return to the SB Indie’s website for updates. Coupled with their good info, and the SB News Press’ horrible, pay-if-you-want-the-whole-article past, I have decided that the SB Indie will be providing my Santa Barbara local news. There, I’ve said it.

It was yesterday, I think, that I discovered that one of the SB Indie’s articles included a Google Map. I was surprised to see a “normal” news content provider using a newfangled web technology. Pretty cool! Here’s the article. Scroll down a bit to see the map. Then as I wandered around, I found a link to a much more detailed Google Map, including all sorts of good information for fire-news-seekers. See it here. THEN, I found that the SB Indie is actually promoting the use of Twitter, and their own account, for getting news updates, as SMS text messages, on your mobile phone. Sweet!

This is pretty exciting, if you think about it. A traditional news content provider is learning from us, the blogging world. They’re using our techniques for communicating and interacting. They’re learning. The traditional business model, that news organizations have used for hundreds of years, will not sustain them into the future. However, they all won’t die, I think. The few that embrace these new technolgies just might survive.


Author: TREVOR

Leukemia survivor. Son of The Most High. Father. Man.

7 thoughts on “Local newspaper embracing technologies to connect with readers”

  1. Hi Trevor. What you may not know is that my husband, George Foulsham, was the second person to quit the News-Press over that whole mess 2 years ago. He was the managing editor. Since then, more than 60 people have quit or been fired. Although he may not be to your liking, you might want to check out another good Santa Barbara source for goings-on, especially as they relate to the News-Press. Craig Smith has a very popular blog at http://craigsmithsblog.blogspot.com. Also, another journalist refugee from the News-Press now publishes his Internet-only “newspaper” about the Santa Barbara County area. You can find Noozhawk at http://www.noozhawk.com. And another paper that is trying to compete with the News-Press is the Daily Sound. You can find it online at http://www.thedailysound.com.


  2. Wendy McCaw has behaved illegally by firing 8 reporters in response to their union activity, by engaging in surveillance of union activity, by threatening employees for supporting the union, by demanding that employees stop wearing and displaying pro-union messages, by discontinuing established policies in retaliation for the employees’ vote in favor of the union, and now, by bargaining in bad faith and refusing to discuss, let alone agree to issues that would resolve this dispute at little cost to the employer. She has no regard for the community or for her employees, and clearly cares more about animals (e.g., coyotes, pigs, sharks and whales) than the people who work for her.


  3. You’re right, Julie. Many newspapers have been making the transition. Some have even been doing it for a while. I’d say that about half the newspaper websites I stumble upon have comments on their articles.

    I didn’t mean to suggest that the SB Indie was the first one doing any of this. It’s just that they’re local to me, and I got to experience a whole tool-chest of technologies all at once.


  4. A fair number of newspapers are starting to embrace the web, Trevor. The Dallas Morning News down in my area has been printing Google mashup maps for quite some time, and they were one of the first papers to start a blog. They started with the editorial group and now I think every department has a blog. The Cowboys blog is pretty busy during games. The local newspaper in my suburb is finally catching on. They’ve allowed comments for stories for years, and now they’re offering video comments. They also post video to go with some stories.

    Speaking as a someone who was once a journalist, it seems to me that the newspapers need to embrace the web if they’re going to survive. The Internet is changing the way that news is reported and gathered – for better or worse.


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