Why Newspapers Are So Slow to Move Online

Because their experience with the web to date has been horrible.

Scott Karp’s recent post, The Only Way For Journalists To Understand The Web Is To Use It, brings to light a problem that I hadn’t thought about before: If your only experience with publishing content to the web comes from using a painfully out of date content management system, of course you won’t be very excited about web publishing.

They haven’t been exposed to how easy it is for people to publish, edit, syndicate, and allow conversations about their content using free (or close to free) software that’s light years ahead of what they have access to at the office.

This reminds me of a situation in Minnesota where a two new online media sites started up over the past year with teams of people coming from traditional media backgrounds. Both launched on web publishing platforms that were surprisingly inadequate, considering what’s available on the market today. However, what seems shocking to someone who uses programs like Movable Type and WordPress on a daily basis is likely judged to be unobtainably expensive by people coming from years of experience with prehistoric software.

For example, they may wonder, “Is it really possible to build a site where every article, author, or comments thread is syndicatable?” Yes. Wordprss does this and it’s free. Actually, they probably don’t wonder that since it’s too far of a reach from where they’ve come from.

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