NOTE: Got questions about journalism? We promised you we'd answer them. Now we're back from the Memorial Day holiday, and we're ready for more! Here's the next Q and A...
"What's the Courier doing to embrace this change?" -- frankwolfton, via blog comment
Ask and ye shall receive.
You asked if we still thought it was a good idea for young people to get into newspapers. We answered: YES! The fact that people need newspapers hasn't changed. What has and likely will is the way people read those newspapers, thanks to something you may have heard of called "the Interwebs."
To which, you asked, well, what is The Courier-News doing about that?
Oh, I'm so glad you asked. As your Readers' Reporter, I'm the fingers behind the keyboard, if you will. The Courier's resident geek. The one coming up with hackneyed ideas for Facebook and Twitter pages and blogs and hacking out most of the posts for all of the above. And I could talk about this all day.
Let's start with the big one...
Social media. One of the things the Internet has changed about the way you read the news is it's become a social experience. According to Pew Internet, 59 percent of Americans get their news from a combination of online and offline sources. Of those, 75 percent get that news via e-mail or social networks, and 52 percent will pass it on through those means.
Since social media is where you're getting your news, social media is where we're putting it. We have three Twitter accounts: @courierrss (headlines from our RSS feeds), @courierfbscores (sports) and @couriernews (breaking news and interaction with yours truly). I've also made Twitter Lists for each of the communities we cover and each of the regular sections in The Courier-News. We have a Facebook fan page. We even did the MySpace thing for a while... but seriously. Does anybody even use MySpace anymore?! (If I'm wrong, and that's important to you -- let me know. I'll start updating our profile again.)
And we've made it easy for you to pass it on through e-mail, Twitter, Facebook, Digg, etc., with a "Share/Bookmark" link at the top of each article on The Courier-News website (and the bottom of every blog post).
E-mail, smartphones and this here blog, after the jump.
- Alerts. We've covered social networks. But 75 percent of Americans get news from social networks and e-mail. You can get The Courier-News via e-mail, too. Click here to sign up to get daily headlines and breaking news from your hometown newspaper in your inbox.
- RSS. I also mentioned you can get headlines from The Courier-News' RSS feeds on Twitter. Well, you can subscribe to any of those feeds using whichever news reader you prefer, too. Here are those links and more information about RSS.
- Mobile. Read The Courier-News on your smartphone? There's no app for that... yet. And for whatever reason, our website won't automatically redirect you. But we do offer a mobile version of the site that's much easier to read on your phone screen or iPad at mobile.couriernewsonline.com.
- Photos. Another thing that's changed about the way you get your news? You don't need a printing press -- the Internet has made everyone a publisher. You can post your photos of breaking news and events to the Web just as easily as we can. And we want to be your one-stop shop for all those things. You can submit your photos to our online galleries, or if you're on Flickr, you can add them to The Courier-News pool. Sometimes, Community News Editor Julia Doyle even will use them in print.
- Blogs. Anybody who says blogs will replace newspapers understands neither blogs nor newspapers... and also probably never has sat through a five-hour village board meeting. Most blogs don't do their own, independent reporting. What they do do is aggregate stories from mainstream media sources, like newspapers. Or offer their opinion and experience, or a slightly different take on the story. According to the Pew Research Center, 99 percent of the stories linked in blogs come from the mainstream media.
There are applications here for newspapers, as well: We can embrace the fact social media is social, the fact there's infinite room online to write about things we may not have room for in our pages, the fact you like to share your news with a friend, the fact a peek behind the scenes might help you trust what you read in the newspaper. That's what we've tried to do with Between the Bylines. Sun-Times Media West also has a transportation blog, On the Move, that aggregates and expands on news from our west suburban newspapers in Elgin, Aurora and Naperville. And the Courier has a sports blog called All Around E-Town, although to be entirely honest, your guess is as good as mine what's going on there.
Those are just some of the things The Courier-New is doing to embrace the change the Internet has brought in how you read your news. If you've got more ideas, we'd love to hear them!
-- Emily McFarlan, Readers' Reporter