Online Local News Forces Local Businesses Online

The truths:

  1. News is moving online.  People want instant access to news without waiting until the next morning or afternoon.
  2. The recession has caused a terrifying drop in printed advertising causing a quick but low profit move online.

The conclusions:

  1. Local news companies must move to quick unabbreviated news online that incorporates local business advertising.
  2. Local businesses must move online with a web presence that brings both foot traffic to the brick and mortar store as well as an online business.

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An example:

The Fargo Forum moved to a CMS and used their site extremely well during the recent flood.  The site is not necessarily as polished and easy to navigate as Foxnews.com, but a good start in the online news business.  However, the prime advertising real estate on the site is for Forum operated sites.  Sites that local businesses can join and participate/advertise in.  Really they are ads for the Forum classifieds (i.e. Homes, Apartments, Cars, etc.)  There are really very few ads for individual businesses.  And once you visit the the business you may or may not be greeted by a discount or sales offer.  This must change if local news and businesses are going to make the transition.  The Forum is definitely in the game and making progress but it has room to grow.

The online move of news could force more and more local businesses to develop a true online presence.  It may not mean an online store, but it will mean an online version of what they would have had printed in the paper.  Additionally, they can have the equivalent of an entire sales flier for the price of an online click-through ad.  Could this mean a resurgence for web developers as local businesses must build dynamic CMS sites?  I believe that the local news agencies and businesses that catch on to this partnership and market will rediscover the advertising gold mine.  The early bird will get the worm.