By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

News as community

Good news for North Shore and Merrimack Valley news junkies. Starting Feb. 1, the Eagle-Tribune papers will open up their Web sites and provide all content for free. Currently, you have to be a paid subscriber to the print edition. The papers include four dailies, the Eagle-Tribune of Lawrence, the Daily News of Newburyport, the Salem News and the Gloucester Times.
Here’s the announcement.

What’s interesting about this isn’t that you’ll no longer have to pay. It’s that company executives have embraced the open Web, and now understand that there’s more value to be had — and more money to be made — by building online communities around their journalism.

They’ve been moving in that direction for some time with projects like, a separate site dedicated to high school sports and, more recently, the addition of Witches Brew, the Salem High School newspaper. Add in the blogs and multimedia features that are being integrated into the site, and you have a pretty good example of the “news as a conversation” model.

The Eagle-Tribune model is regional, as befits the four papers’ mission. GateHouse Media, which publishes weeklies in just about every community in Eastern Massachusetts (as well as a few dailies), takes a more hyperlocal approach with its Wicked Local sites. Here is the chain’s site for Danvers, which also happens to be one of the towns that the Salem News covers.

Slowly but surely, the news business is reinventing itself.

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  1. Anonymous

    I guess I haven’t wrapped my head around it yet, but I don’t understand why journalism is defined more and more as a ‘conversation.’When I read the paper, I’m not interested in blogs, user comments and ‘citizen journalism.’ I want a competent reporter to give me the facts, provide links for sources and maybe even a bit of background.I have nothing against newspapers trying to incorporate social media features in their publications, but I fail to see how they improve or augment the paper’s reporting.I also wonder if the news I read is compromised by the powerful position advertisers now hold.Danny

  2. liamstliam

    I bugged them about this for years.Hurrah!Even better now that I am in upstate New York.

  3. Larz

    I looked at the Danvers page and I wasn’t impressed. I recognize that a web site is important to a 21st Century operation, but I believe that it can also create a vacuum that sucks in poor journalism and paints it as gospel. Or is Danvers really that dead?—Larz

  4. parsimonious

    About time…now I can buy the Salem News on Tuesday to Friday, leaving the very thin Monday and Saturday editions on the newsstand.

  5. bloggergirl2980

    the Wicked Local Danvers site is a much better site… there is also a Salem

  6. Bill Weye

    Unfortunately, here in Western Mass., we still have the Daily Hampshire Gazette behind the pay wall. They just don’t get it. In fact, when you work the numbers out, they are charging more for online access than the Wall Street Journal!I wrote a blog post about it awhile back.

  7. bigyaz

    Anonymous (the first post) summed it up for me: The few intelligent, engaging “conversations” on most sites are dwarfed by rudeness, name-calling and downright childishness. I fail to see where newspapers will gain much there, either in reputation or revenue.”News as a conversation” — espoused by the Jeff Jarvises of the blogsphere — has become a tired cliche.

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