As newspapers increasingly ramp out Web 2.0 features, Ryan Sholin ponders whether we should be following MySpace’s example and start ramping out our own social networks.
I’d argue that, if we were to prioritize our efforts, we should be emulating Google before MySpace. Newspapers should be striving to catalog everything about their communities. Where are all the parks? Who’s who? Why is the city’s name what it is? Who’s the future A-Rod on the Little League team? Where am I more likely to get mugged?
This approach, while not as technology-centric as creating a web page index, is the essence of Google. That is, answering questions. Newspapers have the distinct advantage of having real people on the ground who know their communities, unlike many of the other soulless hyperlocal endeavors out there.
What we should be focusing on is producing ALL of our content in as flexible a format as possible to allow it to be syndicated and re-purposed into social networks, whether they be external or our own. If newspapers want to take a stab at creating the networks themselves, then they should by all means. But let’s focus on creating the best damn journalism out there, thinking harder about how we deliver it and balancing the “fun-to-write” journalism with gathering the information people truly need.