Sometimes I worry that this blog comes off smug, as if I have the answer to turning a legacy media outfit into a digital superhero. That I deign to come down from the mount each Friday to present The Word on a self-satisfied platter.
Hardy, har, har. What a laugh.
Truth is, I learn more of what I don’t know every week. And a week doesn’t go by that I don’t think of something we could have done better at Wick generally, or at the Half Moon Bay Review more specifically.
Take this week. A beloved bookstore announced it was closing after 30-something years in town. Where once we had five or six independent bookstores in town, soon we will have only two. The store-closing was the talk of the town. …
Here’s what we did: We went down to the bookstore and snapped a shot that we then shared on Facebook and our own website along with the quick and dirty news of the pending closure. When our first print deadline rolled around, we reran that photo along with a pretty good news story and an editorial bemoaning the loss of an iconic business. Oh, and at the last minute, I wrote a blurb and tucked it in the shoulder of the story, suggesting readers send us “bookies.” These might be selfies of readers holding a book they bought there along with a couple sentences about what that book means to them.
I’d give that a solid “B-.” It was nothing more than the bare minimum in my view.
Here’s what we could have done:
- We could have opened a thread on our own Web forum. We could use that forum to engage people who loved the store – and they are legion. What is your favorite memory of Bay Book Co.? What books did you buy there that had an impact on your life? Where will you go for books now?
- We could have conducted a video interview with the storeowner or its longtime manager.
- We could have sought comment from some of the many nationally known authors who have spoken there through the years.
- We could have run a sidebar about the economics of running a bookstore in the 21st century. It would have made a great half-page graphic showing distribution channels, the cost of producing books, etc.
- We could have conducted Vine video interviews with customers, creating a sort of digital sympathy card for those who love the store.
- We could have run a list of bookstore owner Kevin Magee’s 10 greatest moments at the store, including “Harry Potter” book events that brought teens to the store in droves.
- We could have started a Twitter hashtag, like #BayBook to promote the conversation.
And so on. Usually, my failures are the result of a limited imagination that dims in the face of deadline. Sometimes, I need to step back and think about how I can make my newspaper indispensable rather than good enough. Perhaps that hits a nerve for you as well.
Luckily, newspapers are an every-day thing. Tomorrow’s another day.