The move has inspired a lot of noise in the social media sphere, with most heralding it as a triumph of the spirit of journalism. Some question the viability of the proposed “freemium” model, but beyond that there appears to be little discussion regarding whether these dedicated folks can pull it off.
From a journalistic perspective, odds are they can; from a Web perspective, I am wary.
As with most new sites, one of the first things I did after navigating to InDenver’s address was to check how the domain was registered. A simple whois query revealed that it was purchased on Thursday—fair enough. What was also revealed, however, is that their site is currently hosted on BlueHost at a cost of $6.95 a month.
These two facts alone don’t say much, of course, but there’s more; no one at the InDenver Times appears to have thought about purchasing other top-level domain suffixes bearing their namesake, as I commented about on Twitter. Daniel Bachhuber noted that they hadn’t reserved usernames on the growing microblogging service. (The possibilities he suggested, of course, have since been scooped up. The one matching their URL has a profile picture that proclaims, “journalism is dead.”)
Finally, judging by the source code, the InDenverTimes’ current iteration looks like it was created in Dreamweaver.
Are these criticisms all anecdotal at best and nitpicky at worst? Probably, but they are also positively what matter most at this juncture. If an online news organizations’ Web presence wasn’t hashed out from the get-go and it shows so clearly, it doesn’t bode well for the future of their product.
This is not to say that I wish failure on this group of what are obviously dedicated journalists—quite the opposite, in fact. My point is that those wishing to build an organization that seeks $3 million a year in subscription fees alone might want to take a moment to inspect the Internet abyss into which they are about jump. Your parachute should be packed and strapped on before you take flight, not after you’ve taken off.
Update: less than ten minutes after this post was published, a Twitter username appearing to be associated with InDenver Times was created. No action appears to have been taken on the domain issue, however IDtimes.com (to coincide with the new Twitter username) is already registered elsewhere.
Update two: several hours later, it appears as though InDenverTimes.net has been registered—but it doesn’t forward to InDenverTimes.com. Instead, it’s a site apparently pertaining to satellite television piracy. Your move, former Rocky newsers…
Update three: the next morning, InDenverTimes.mobi has been registered through GoDaddy to a Massachusetts-based photographer. The new organization continues to lose control of its brand that was unveiled less than 24 hours ago.
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2 Responses to “InDenver Times: Control Your Presence, Protect Your Brand”
Daniel on March 16th, 2009
I agree. Now that you’ve noticed that the Twitter account is taken, I almost feel bad about that. Nice new theme, btw. You might’ve just convinced me to stop trying to build my own intermittently and use a pre-built.
joeybaker on March 16th, 2009
Great reporting Adam. It’s for reasons like this that the ‘old media’ needs to have some of us ‘new media’ folk around. These are simple mistakes that could have easily been avoided.
Dan on March 17th, 2009
I agree with Joey , they need to incorporate some new media people onto their team if they are to succeed. I am available . My guess is that if in fact they do launch their venture ,which I hope they do , their name will probably have to change. There are many dedicated talented people sitting idly without a venue to show their talent. They do have a site which is http://iwantmyrocky.com which originally started out just being a website to reminisce and console each other.
This has grown into their new venture with 3 main founders, Kevin Preblud, Brad Gray, and Benjamin Ray. Steve Foster is the main editor for the new online publication.
They need 50,000 pledges by April 23rd, 2009 the anniversary of what would have been the 150th anniversary of the Rocky Mountain News. They expect to put out their 1st edition on May 16th.
I suspect that they will have problems but there are problems in any venture that you take,and I think that any problems that they might face they will overcome them. The only alternative is to sit idly by and feel sorry for themselves.
Obviously , that is not an option for the recently laid off newspaper former employees.