Rob Curley is a strange man, no doubt about it. But he has a knack for seeing the obvious when it comes to newspaper-centred web development. After creating an award winning Mark Twain site, an online music calendar and now lately an extensive podcast library in Naples, Florida – the time has come. He’s going to the Washington Post. And so he should.
I visited him in Lawrence when I used to work for the Swedish newspaper Sydsvenskan. They sent me over together with Andreas Ekström to see if their success was something that we could learn from. It was, but still we didn’t do it. That’s another story though.
Back then, he told me that a lot of people said that he could never pull his sorts of sites off if they weren’t situated in really small towns. Washington should be a good challenge, but I’ve got no doubt in my mind that he will succeed.
When I heard he was in Sweden to talk I knew I had to hear him again. So we went to Örebro and met up Niklas Jonason from Citygate that was kind enough to let us come, even though we weren’t a newspaper in their network. I made a few notes that I’ll share with you below.
Curley listed six (well, seven actually) core new media strategies for success:
Hyper-local content – “So local we can’t print it. Because if we did, we’d run out of pages”
Hyper-local means local down to each block of houses. Curley spoke of journalism in two stages – small J and big J. This is small J, and it is not to be dismissed.
Database-driven coverage – Collected from from the government
Curleys team managed to collect vast amounts of data on a very local level. The price of every house in a specific area for example. And then all the prices of all the sales the last five years. That sort of thing.
Multimedia overkill – so much video/vr/podcast that people don’t go to TV-sites
TV on the internet is a threat. TV worked on TV, why wouldn’t it work on the net? YouTube proves this sufficiently well. The only reason that the TV-stations websites don’t rule the web is that they don’t do it well enough. But they probably will soon, and that’s why newspapers have to stay on point. And that’s why newspaper sites have to do everything that other media sites do as well – and more.
Embrace platform-independent delivery - “Send your content to anything that people want to use”
PSPs, iPods, Mp3s, Zune, computer – or what ever people could possibly use to get your content. Support all of them.
Dialogue, not a monologue - “Make it feel like it’s their website, not your website”
We all knew this one. If only more people acted on it….
Evergreen content - can also be done with historical perspective
Find the things that matter in your town/area.Then find which of them will last over time. Then go crazy and do everything you could possibly think of on that subject. History is easy, if it’s lasted this long it will probably last longer than that.
and then the final one – Internology – the art of getting (a hell of a lot of) interns to do (a hell of a lot of) work for almost no money.
That one speaks for itself. But it seemed to be the key of a lot of his projects. So go out there and get a lot of interns – right now!