Give the People What They Want?

All us traditional-media types recognize that all roads head to the web. My radio group knows it, the TV stations know it, and the local newspaper knows it. What we’re all trying to figure out (along with everyone else in the country) is how to get our erstwhile listeners, viewers and readers to move to our web sites when they make the move.

In today’s print version of the Oregonian, they go for the lowest common denominator: a promise of hot teenagers engaging in sexually-suggestive dancing.

“Teen’s freak dancing revs up controversy”, screams the headline. “No matter what you call it, the sexually-charged movement is changing the high-school dance.” There’ll be a story in Sunday’s paper, but if you just can’t wait, you can “watch a video on freak dancing at”

While I respect the O’s desire to get people onto their web site by any means necessary, they’ve made a couple of big mistakes:

1. The video itself is difficult to find. A trip to OregonLive’s Multimedia Page presents you with one featured story (at this writing, it’s about a church fire). If you want the freak dancing video, you’ve got to hunt for it.

2. Once you finally get there, the video itself is virtually substance-free. The scenes of actual dancing are very poorly lit, so concerned parents won’t learn anything about the dancing itself. Nor is there an in-depth study of the issues involved — if you’re wondering about the evolution of teenage dancing, and how this version of teen dance differs from what’s come before (weren’t they complaining about this stuff in the 50’s?), and what it all means, you won’t find it in the video. A couple of high-school kids get some face and mic time, but they have nothing interesting to say.

If you’re going to lure your readers to the web site, you need to reward them somehow when they get there.

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