The end of the American Weekend and the rise of on-line news

With the rise of email, the globalization of business and the proliferation of news on the web for various trade mags, it is a wonder anyone works the straight five-day work week anymore. Several marcom types I have spoken to in the past month have begun to spend a portion of their weekends viewing the news posted to PC Week, Infoworld, and other trade web sites. Why? So they can be better prepared for those panicked Monday morning calls from their management reacting to some story that ran in the papers.

Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Well, if you want to sell more print advertising (where these weeklies still make the lion's share of their revenues), I think it has a short-term effect of helping but it could back-fire long term. Short-term, it convinces advertisers that the publication has influence and is on top of things. (Well, who knows what convinces ad buyers? But it can help demonstrate influence.) Long-term, it convinces readers to forgo the paper (and most of the ads, too) and stick with the lite version that is posted on the web.

One person told me that when they changed jobs recently, they decided to see if they could go without their weekly diet of a foot- plus stack of the trade mags, and just get the information via the web. But after six months of viewing, this person is back subscribing to the print editions. Why? "I still miss lots of stuff that isn't posted to the web site or just hidden away that I didn't get to." Hmm.

This whole notion of currying influence is due for an overhaul anyway. Take my own humble example of these missives. Now, you would think having a nice mailing list like I do would be a good thing, and I should try to add as many people as I can to the list so that Web Informant goes to everyone in the industry. But sometimes, having the Big Boss getting notes from three underlings with the same WI attached can be more influential than if I sent the thang directly to Mr. or Ms. BB him/herself. Think about that, the next time you do your on-line circulation audit. Pass-along readers can be more important than the ones that get it directly, the exact reverse of the print universe!

And scoops become a different thing entirely when you can post a story within minutes on the web, clueing in your competitors what you are doing. You might want to hold back your best stories so that they donít appear until later in the week, which again is the exact reverse of the print universe!

Holy Alice-in-Wonderland, Batman. Do you have any opinions on which trade mag web site has the best on-line news coverage? I'm interested in your opinion, and how your reading habits have changed since these sites appeared.

Awards, Sitekeeping and self-promotions dep't

Well, I am taking a long weekend (although I'll be bringing along my laptop, so much for a complete vacation). In the meantime, here are two awards this week, both good ones:

Be.Here.Now award goes to NSCA for their What's New page, which unfortunately ends this week. A long time ago in web-years, NCSA was the only site that kept track of new web servers and doings. Then came the explosion of search sites, listings galore, and vulture capitalists and they have been literally passed by. But this award is in grateful appreciation of what they have done for this industry: without NCSA, there would be no Netscape, no Internet Strategy briefings du jour, and no crazy stock market valuations of any company that could put an Internet spin on their products.

The Big.Duck award goes to Imagiware's Doctor HTML. The doctor makes home (page) calls, and analyzes your pages for syntax errors, spelling, broken links and other HTML oddities. I managed to find one typo and places that I could tighten things up on my own pages.

This week another one of my opinion pieces was published by ComputerWorld, Digging for gold in your Web Server logs. As a reader, I am continually impressed with the Internet/Intranet coverage of this publication. For those of you that haven't taken a look at them in a while, I would highly recommend it. They have dug deeper and provided lots of analysis lacking in many of the other trade weeklies.

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David Strom
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