We are lucky here in Nashua that we still have a traditional daily newspaper, the Nashua Telegraph. The paper (rather like Nashua itself) is stuck between two bigger rivals, the Manchester Union Leader to the North and the Boston Globe to the South.
I must confess that until yesterday, I’d not picked up the paper version of the Telegraph for as long as I can remember, but I do follow their updates on Twitter and sometimes the RSS feed. We have however, had some dealings with the Nashua Telegraph of late because of the PR we do with Winco Identification. In particular some people in the company have recently been interviewed and today we had one of the Telegraph photographers on-site for a few pictures. You can see the Winco ID story here.
I’ve found this process rather interesting and it made me wonder what the paper is doing to cope with the digital news age that we find ourselves in.
The first thing I must say is that the Telegraph is at least trying. They have all the ingredients:
Facebook? Hmm, I couldn’t find anything but I wouldn’t give a confident no. Might be something I misssed.
So let’s check out how this old media operation is doing with all the new media tools.
If you use Firefox along with Adblock Plus, this isn’t too bad. However, I felt I had to do some raw research so I went off to NashuaTelegraph.com using Chrome as my browser. Wow this is nasty, the ugliest collection of crappy banner ads I’ve seen for ages. This is worse than an early 90’s GeoCities page. Now, I fully appreciate that old media companies are having difficulty shifting their revenue model to include more on-line, but this is not the way to do it.
The retro look/feel to the site is continued in the page design as well. I ran the site through Website Grader and found the following:
The maximum recommended length for page titles is 70 characters, your current page title is 82 characters.
Your meta description should be no more than 150 characters, your current meta description is 334 characters.
The web page has 41 keywords in its metadata.We believe that though the search engines don’t weigh keywords as heavily as they used to, they’re still important to get right. By using a high number of keywords, it is possible that you are diluting the effect of your most important keywords. We would suggest keeping the keywords to 10 or less. Currently, this page has 41 keywords in its metadata. Again, just like in the early 90’s when we used to think that putting tons of metadata in our headers would make search engines (such as Yahoo and AltaVista back then) find our sites. Interestingly, the site has a very high overall grade from Website Grader, this will be mainly due to a lot of incoming links (as people link to stories that interest them), a large number of indexed pages and frequently updated content.
Another plus is the the Telegraph allows comments on the news stories. They are using Disqus for this (as I do) for comments which is a great way to manage them. Having the comments feature turns the site into a blog which is good too.
I clicked on the link labeled “blogs” and came to a page with some interesting little stories. As you probably know, I’m a huge fan of blogs and blogging – especially because the concept allows writers to try different things and show their real personalities. The Telegraph “blogs” really are not any different to the rest of the site – I think there is a great opportunity to develop this and make blogs by the Telegraph peopel become a really good local resource.
A couple of years ago I was a fan of forums and I’d set up several of my own. I’m not sure why, but this media format doesn’t seem to work for me as much as it use to – maybe because of the rise of Twitter. In anycase, I used to check out the telegraph forums from time to time and found them to be usually occupied by the dsame few nuts each time.
It doesn’t help that the moderators have no persona of their own. Who wants to communicate with someone called “Telegraph Staff” or “Lifestyles Editor”? Not me.
Twitter and Social Media.
For me, Twitter is a great way to keep up with the news – I discovered that Michael Jackson was no longer with us on Twitter about 40 minutes before the main news outlets reported it – and the Telegraph does have a presence there. As it happens I follow @NashuaTelegraph on Twitter because they automatically Tweet when a new story is posted.
The problem is that I don’t see the Telegraph doing much else. There is a great opportunity here for Telegraph writers to be active in social media and engage their readers in great discussions. I’d really like to see them do much more than just post the news stories.
Well, the Telegraph is trying. I think that with some planning on how they can get into the digital news age, they could do pretty well. They just have to get out of the retro website thing and start to make their social media activities much more social – let’s have some people ‘s names rather than company names please.
I’m inclined to believe that the future of news organizations is in being dynamically local and really building a social community.
I hope these guys can do it.
How is your local newspaper coping with the changes in the industry? Do they have any great ideas that could help the Nashua Telegraph?