The Convergence Point

Because Story is independent of medium

Into the Air

with one comment

Quiet falls over the Internet tonight. An odd stillness, sanity, and calm from a city known for a hedonistic addiction to flashing lights. Pause… something’s not right.

You’re in a dead zone, where the lights haven’t flickered, where a web presence hasn’t been, and where silence, at least in that corner of our digital world, rules with an iron scepter. Welcome to my town.

The web-site lights flicker in small towns, and local communities, like Cape Ann, where I do most of my work. With the basic framework for effective internet presence barely constructed, speaking out over the social media waves doesn’t work. I took some time yesterday and checked Good Morning Gloucester’s twitter directory. Joey C, who runs the site, started the social media presence in Gloucester, and I’ll sit down and talk with him on dock in a few days. He knows everyone who’s on the soc-med wave in the city.

But that list is a good 30 people long, give or take. About one person for every 10,0000 people in the city, let alone the rest of Cape Ann.  We are the tree that fell in the woods, and we’re not making much of a sound, because no-one’s listening.

In a well-connected city, a newspaper can jump into the social media stream, and become part of an already active conversation. The Salem Evening News, thanks to the Art Throb  an arts magazine that does in Salem, what GMG does in Gloucester. The Gloucester Times, however, has a bit more trouble. The communities it covers don’t use the web to the extent that Beverly, Ipswich, Salem and Danvers do.

We’re the early adopters of social media across Cape Ann. A candle in the midst of a great, on-line blackout, speaking into the air, waiting for someone to pick up.

While the GDT’s follower base through Twitter has spiked up in the last few days, there aren’t enough people listening to make a difference yet. Well, not to the Times anyway.  To still make a difference on the web, the paper’s moved in an oligarchical direction with it’s tweeting.

We’re tweeting to the connected ones, who actively retweet what people want to hear. We’re moving in lock-step with an essay on tweeting influence and information spread that I found this afternoon.

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One Response

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  1. Thanks for the interesting post, Steven. Please keep in mind that 10 or 15 years ago, a journalist might have written this same thing about online journalism (I know – I was a print journalist then.) Being ahead of the curve is much better than being left behind. Social media isn’t going away. Keep at it. You and the GDT are right to be trying new things, scuffling along in the dark with the rest of us on the path to what journalism will look like next. Don’t be prisoner to the old ways. Ask the afternoon newspaper guys how that went.

    JohnMcElhenny

    April 20, 2011 at 2:45 pm


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