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How Does Salem-News.com Compare With Oregon Online Media?Tim King Salem-News.com
We're movin' on up...and the numbers prove it!
(SALEM, Ore.) - When we started Salem-News.com almost five years ago, I sensed the potential of a great media movement that was about to take place Online, and sure enough it is now underway.
I had an idea then that our strictly Web-based news organization could serve the needs of people here very effectively by providing the latest news and empowering the people of Salem, who live in the shadow of our metropolis neighbor to the north.
Salem is a great place, and its need to have current information is extremely important. I was raised in a big city, but ended up living on the Oregon coast with my wife Bonnie in the early years of our careers in media. I think anyone who lives in a small Oregon town sees Salem as a big city the way we in Salem see Portland as a big city.
Again, people on the coast are just as important as people here, and truthfully they are even more overlooked by Portland media than we are.
While I have lamented that lack of coverage in the past, the argument now falls to the wayside as the economy spirals affecting not just newspaper, but also local and national TV news. Salem and other places that receive minimal coverage are at least an hour from the Portland stations and there are only so many news crews and so much time in the day.
But these are all reasons that Internet news is finally being looked at as a stand-alone product. Online news need not be the bi-product of another entity; just "another" way for a newspaper, television station or radio station, to offer its news and promotions for the day.
Our news team has embraced the Internet since 2004 and as we grew and improved, we watched the same thing happen on YouTube where video quality has improved significantly, and through fantastic services like yousendit.com that allow a person to actually email a file up to 100 MB. That technology is how I sent all of my video reports from the war in Iraq back to Oregon for publication last summer.
But while those sites, Craigslist and MySpace and other social networking sites have flourished, only a handful at best of local Internet news sites have been launched. Salem-News.com is considered a "pure play" website, not a subsidiary of another, larger body. That makes us unique.
A Blog is a Blog is a Blog.
The Blogosphere is another confusing point, along with the frequently heard term "citizen journalist".
A Blog is a Website that features content, usually generated by a well-known group, and allows people to state their feelings about it in an ongoing discussion "thread". Writers can create their own blog pages as well, offshoots of the main blog.
The term blog came from "web log", appropriately so. Some blogs feature original content generated by amateurs to professionals from all walks of life, their talents landing every where on the scale. Most blogs are templates, customizeable, and many are very professionally managed as in the case of eatsalem.com, meeting a high standard of content and credibility.
Still, a blog is not a news site. It's a blog.
Citizen journalists are not reporters, but they do offer excellent "eyes in the field" for newsrooms. These involved individuals increasingly send in tips, information and often photographs to newsrooms that are essential keys in telling a complete story. They are not, however, professional journalists.
Their participation will continue to gain popularity, with us and other sites, as citizens broaden the scope of coverage for an area. We encourage input from the public, and appreciate their staying in touch with us from all points of the region. Still, we expect that other media outlets will follow us in our mandatory policy regarding official journalist submissions.
Ranking You Can See and Believe
It appears that in some cases, the wrong people have been steering the direction of Internet news. One example is when a newspaper holds off publishing a story on the Internet, presumably because they want to break it in the actual paper. Who can blame them? Recently they seem to have learned that the Internet is an unforgiving conveyor of information and there is no sense in holding things back any longer.
Every Internet story isn't breaking news, so we, like other media, often launch a morning lineup bright and early. That allows our stories to often rank high on Google News and also gives our viewers something fresh to begin their day with.
One of the ways advertisers gauge Websites is by checking the site's ranking on a Web evaluator, like Alexa.com. This non-subscription site allows all of us an equal look at what sites are getting visitors and which ones are not. It shows indications of growth and the most valuable feature, in our book, is the option to show the comparison of different Websites, side by side.
In the bigger picture, Portland media outlets get the larger numbers, but that is logical when you consider the audience size. The Portland area has around two million people; I think the greater Salem area has around 250 thousand.
Oregonlive.com (Oregonian) is at the top of the Portland Internet lineup, and the television stations there do very well also. KGW.com has a highly rated site and they have won awards from the Associated Press for those accomplishments. KATU.com, the site for Portland's ABC station, is also doing very well. Though it isn't included in the figures below, Portland's FOX station, KPTV.com, is next in line. They are getting a bigger audience than Salem-News.com, but trailing the two above mentioned stations.
The surprise to me is that we are coming in well above Portland's CBS station; KOIN.com. They aren't a flatline in the Alexa figures, but their visitor count is low.
TV stations are the least challenged of the big media outlets in the conversion to Web, and they aren't the industry that is shutting down their conventional operations and going all-Internet.
The latest newspaper casualty to make the headlines is the Seattle Post Intelligencer; they are all Online now and their last paper was published Tuesday. 145 years after its inception, the physical paper is no more.
TV news departments already have people shooting, editing, and reporting in the video format. It is easy for them to create Websites that look great and honestly, it is not a big chore to convert TV news copy to a written report.
Keeping the News Product Strong and Saleable
Newspapers resisted the Internet in many ways. It wasn't long ago when local sales associates for newspaper were offering an Internet ad as a "bonus" or "added value" if the advertiser bought space in the paper. Radio stations followed suit. This is a habit they may find hard to break.
De-valuing thier online product cheapened the whole idea of Internet advertising in the Salem area and our up-and-coming company felt the pinch from it, I'm pretty sure. I suspect that talk has likely died down as our brothers in the press watch operations close and fold. I think it will be almost all Internet soon and we have to get behind that idea and help with the creation of new media jobs that can absorb the ranks of unemployed and soon to be unemployed.
In comparison to local media in the Willamette Valley, the numbers show very well for Salem-News.com. Graphs below show that we are now running neck and neck and possibly just ahead of the historic Statesman Journal newspaper in terms of reach, and another online Salem publication, willamettelive.com, is showing narrowly.
The Website for Albany's newspaper, democratherald.com, is receiving a noteworthy number of visitors, while the Dallas paper's site, itemizerobserver.com, is seeing comparatively little traffic. The Democrat Herald has days that appear to exceed our visitor count, and they are also seeing numbers competitive with the Statesman Journal.
There is so much to know and so much to learn when it comes to the Internet and the effective use of it as a tool for the delivery of news and quality advertising. We are glad to have the support of our advertisers and we appreciate the long-term commitment they have to us. Forward thinkers, they knew something good when they saw it. And now they have been rewarded with the numbers. Because Salem-News.com is highly ranked across the Web, simply advertising with us (even a small ad) greatly affects our clients' Website ranking. More people means more income and that has never been more important.
"Your success is our success," Publisher Bonnie King says. "We are so happy to be a part of this growth industry and bring our own vision to fruition. It's very satisfying to hear positive reviews from our advertisers. They know what works. And we're just starting to get our momentum."
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