Utah Papers, Get on the Technology Bus
I like getting frequent updates from my favorite websites, so I'm a big fan of RSS, the technology that allows you to see what's new on a website without necessarily visiting it. Used with an aggregator like Bloglines or Google Personalized Home, it becomes an easy way to track dozens of websites seamlessly. It's one of the hallmarks of Web 2.0 for tracking everything from blogs to webmail to news. I'm also a big fan of expansive archives that are well-indexed and easily searchable. Utah's newspapers, though, seem to be a bit behind the "new media" curve.
Sadly, several of Utah's papers aren't on the RSS bus, the Tribune and City Weekly being the most notable offenders. RSS has been around for several years, and it's reached a high enough level of popularity that both Microsoft and Mozilla include subscription features in their latest browsers. It also decreases your bandwidth costs as visitors will only drop by if they want to read the full article.
There's also a disconnect with the way that the Tribune and Deseret Morning News do their archiving. Instead of allowing anyone to search through the archives for free, the Tribune charges $3 an article for stories older than a month and the Deseret Morning News charges $10 for 90 days of access. Wouldn't they get more money from opening up the archives and charging for original copies or making money off of advertising? They're stuck in the mentality of print, and their online strategy reflects it.
What's likely is that they're "old media" holdouts. Some newspapers oppose features like full archive access, being indexed by Google, or including RSS feeds because of the silly notion that it somehow robs them of advertising revenue. What they fail to understand, however, is that these new technologies engage users into visiting their website in a way that they've never had before, opening up an increase in ad revenue rather than the dire increase they anticipate. These types of companies are becoming less and less relevant as media switches to a more open distribution model.
My tips to the editors at Utah's papers? Setup RSS feeds, open up the archives, and let the information be free. You're only hurting yourselves.