Online news needs to become tangible in order to bond

“The point here is that newspapers must accomplish online what they have long been able to achieve for generations of readers in print: they must forge an emotional bond with their readers by becoming an essential part of their daily lives. That hasn’t happened yet to judge by the level of reader engagement online versus print. But it will — it must, if newspapers hope to make the transition to the digital age.”

Marc Frons, Chief Technology Officer, Digital Operations, The New York Times Company

Do they?

If newsbrands need to bond again with you and your life in an emotional way, they’ll need something more tangible than an online reputation, a slick designed website and great content.

Newspaper is a close relative

Most newspaper brands have huge emotional value. They are a part of the family. They meet you at breakfast. They are there when you come home. They accompany you on your way to work or on a quiet evening. They have been everywhere in your life.

They were there when you were informed or entertained. They didn’t crave for attention. They were proud of what they served you and how they could attribute to your life.

Bodyless brands

Yet the body of the brand was the newspaper. That’s what really made the connection, that’s what made our relationship tangible.

There’s no PDA or laptop which can replace that. Why? Because my PDA or laptop are just plates upon which several media are served.

Imagine the paper upon which your newspaper was printed was branded. And at the end of the day you put your paper back in the magic mailbox so it could be imprinted with tomorrow’s news by the next day, content delivered by a newsbrand you choose.

Same happens with online news. Only you don’t receive this news on branded magic paper, you receive it on your Mac or your iPhone. These are the brands that stick with you in real life.

The art of ‘being there’

If online news brands need to bond again with you and your life in an emotional way, I believe they’ll need something more tangible than an online reputation, a slick designed website and great content or their offline equivalents.

Welcome to ‘the real world’

Perhaps we need more testimonials, perhaps we need to see and feel the world of the online news reader. Online linklove is no real love. That’s a digital connection. What we need is a real connection with these online brands. We need to connect to these brands (and their content) through people (and their lives).

picture: “Gentle Touch” © cindy47452

PS: Sometimes I think of these online news papers as the ghost of a deceased friend. They’ve died and now they use the body of other people to communicate with me. I’d think I’d never be able to have the same bond with these mediators as with the real friend.

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