the transition to digital journalism

Competition Online

News media companies that adopt a web-first strategy face a competitive environment very different from traditional print or broadcast environments.

Their major rivals for the attention of readers and viewers often are not other traditional news organizations, but non-profit organizations, private corporations, online-only startups or even government agencies that have turned to the web to get out their message. They often carve out niche markets on the Internet that compete with the websites of traditional news organizations.

Here are some examples of these websites:

craigslist

While newspapers were trying to figure out how to "up-sell" classified ads from their print product to their online editions, craigslist created a space where people could just post their classifieds free of charge (with the exception of employment ads and some real estate ads).

The site has a very simple design and very few features, but for the community it serves it's highly functional. And its founder, Craig Newmark, puts a strong emphasis on customer service.

The result: craigslist decimated classified advertising in newspapers in many of the cities where it's launched.

MaxPreps

MaxPreps - Missoula, Montana, high school basketball sports page

While in the past newspapers were almost the only source of news about high school sports, online startups like MaxPreps now dominate that market online in many cities.

Founded in 2002 and later purchased by CBS in 2007, MaxPreps includes these features:

  • Databases of individual game-by-game player stats. The data also includes team rosters and game schedules for every sport in every high school in a town. Schools that participate in MaxPreps also can contribute photos, video, and other multimedia about the games.
  • Multimedia coverage of games, with video and photos shot by freelance photographers and videographers.
  • A coach's corner where coaches can contribute content.
  • Video uploads by parents about their kid's performance.

Professional Sports

Professional sports organizations have their own websites that provide a depth of coverage on teams, especially statistical data on players, that rivals or surpasses the information produced by newspapers or other local news organizations.

MLB.com, the official website for Major League Baseball, provides in-depth coverage of professional baseball teams that is as comprehensive as sports networks like ESPN. It includes audio and video feeds of games and deep databases on team and player stats.

The National Footbal League's website has similar features. This is the NFL's page on the St. Louis Rams football team.

NFL.com - St. Louis Rams page

As a result, local sports fans are by-passing newspapers or local TV stations to get information on their teams, and some newspapers are cutting back on their coverage of professional sports.

Concerned about the decline in print newspaper sports coverage of local teams, Dallas Mavericks basketball team owner Mark Cuban has proposed that professional sports organizations subsidize sports beat reporters at local newspapers.

NASA

NASA website

When newspapers cut back their staffs, science reporters are often the first to go. NASA, meanwhile, has been expanding its website to directly reach people interested in astronomy. The site has photo galleries, video stories, a live NASA TV channel, interactive graphics and online games for kids.

Centers for Disease Control

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has a Social Media Tools web page that features widgets, podcasts, RSS feeds, social networks and mobile access to CDC information.

FBI

The FBI's website features databases on crime, RSS feeds of "FBI stories" and "breaking news," a multimedia section that features video, photos, podcasts and "FBI radio" shows, and widgets for embedding FBI content in blogs and websites.

Council on Foreign Relations

This public policy organization's website has a multimedia section that features interactive graphics, photo slideshows, high-quality video, timelines and online quizzes. See especially CFR's interactive multimedia piece Crisis Guide: Climate Change.

Greenpeace

The environmental activist organization has a website that features multimedia stories with video, photos and photo slideshows, staff blogs and a "news" section with stories about Greenpeace actions and environmental issues.

Traffic.com

The Traffic.com website has interactive maps that show driving conditions in cities around the country, traffic alerts, reports on traffic incidents and roadwork, and a drive-time calculator for determining how long it will take to drive between any two locations. Widgets called Traffic Magnets can be embedded on a blog or website to display local traffic conditions.