A radical view of a newspaper

A radical view of a newspaper
: Hugh MacLeod, who leaves a blog’s worth of wonderful comments here, has a brief and brilliant view of what newspapers should be (in response to my call for things we bloggers want newspaper people to hear at next week’s Online Newspaper confab). Hugh said:

Perhaps online newspapers should stop seeing themselves as “things”, rather a point on the map where wonderful people cluster together to do wonderful things. A Joi-Ito-like brain trust, held cohesive by a good editor. Some of the cluster will be paid (the journalists), others won’t (the audience). But everybody is welcome to contribute, and is kinda working together with the same goal: to create the most vibrant intellectual collective that they can.

Hmmm… somebody must’ve spiked my drink.

Bartender: Give me some of whatever he’s drinking.

That’s a radical, transforming way to look at a newspaper’s role in a community and I like it. I’m not sure many newspaper people will take to it, for this requires intensive interactivity.

But in my experience, now that Hugh says it that way, I think that is what I’ve been headed toward online at the day job. As you’ve heard me brag many times before, our forums are wildly popular, getting between 75 and 100 million page views a month. We’ve found that if we put up a forum on its own, it won’t work; we need to have related content; we need to start and contribute to the conversation. The thing is, most times, we just start the conversation and then don’t continue to contribute and interact. We need to find a way to do more of that (not as easy as you’d think because, as Clay Shirky said at the AlwaysOn confab this week, conversations don’t scale at big-scale operations like newspapers). We also need the new improved tools of audience content creation — weblogs — and interaction — friend networks. And we’re working on that, too.

I like Hugh’s view.

(Please continue to contribute things to say to online newspaper honcho here.)