Bringing the Daily Tar Heel into the Digital Age
Posted by Mike on December 10, 2006
The theory: Netizens want a more interactive experience in an online article versus a print article.
The problem: Dailytarheel.com articles offer nothing new compared to the print version of the DTH
The solution: Take steps to make the site’s online experience more interactive.
The purpose of a newspaper website, the online arm of a print publication, is to provide information and services that the print version cannot. Using the nearly infinite network of the Web to give readers a larger and more varied amount of information in a more timely way creates a completely different experience for the website versus the passive nature of a print newspaper. Not that they each have their place; most major newspapers such as the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal have adjusted to a two-way model of disseminating then news online and in print.
The Daily Tar Heel fails in this miserably. What one finds on the website is almost precisely what is found in the print version of the DTH. The articles from the print version are simply reprinted on DTH.com, in dearth of multimedia and access to extra information. The website is an untapped opportunity to give UNC students a much more exciting dissemination of news. Here is how they should reform their website for the digital age:
All columnists should have their own blogs. Most columnists at the DTH only write articles once or twice a week, and opinion articles can be even more sparse. If all DTH columnists had their own blogs, their thoughts would not be limited to their weekly column; they a free to write on a much more regular basis as well as present much more information to readers, making this means of communication much more personal. This also means less censorship of what columnists say, which is good for freedom of speech, but bad if avoiding lawsuits is concerned.
Integrating multimedia into print stories. All of the articles seen on the DTH website are essentially copied and pasted from the print version. The articles should contain much more, including
- photoblogs and photostories
- video coverage of stories
- links and access to related articles across the web
Web-only columnists. In addition to giving the print stories a new dimension on the web, the DTH should have several columnists who exclusively write web content. Having web-only columnists would allow the site to have much more original content updated more frequently than copying and pasting print stories.
Participatory activites. Having experienced the front lines, many students pick up the Daily Tar Heel for the main purpose of playing sudoku or word puzzles, perhaps because these puzzles are the only participatory section of the print newspaper. The online DTH should then bring more reader participation. It could be flash cartoons, mp3 downloads of local artists, even allowing non-DTH student to contribute as guests with multimedia-based stories (such as a photo essay).
With such a diverse medium at their fingertips, the DTH need not be so one-dimensional. Hopefully they’l listen and change their site to use the Web to the best of their advantage.