01 April 2008

Courting Users Versus Enabling Interaction

A review comparing the Birmingham Mail and Wolverhampton Express & Star highlights two different approaches to engaging users on the internet.

Sarah Hartley examines the facilities for user-generated content (UGC) offered by the Mail online and finds that the relaunched website is ‘actively courting user involvement’.

Hartley says this is “at odds” with its main newspaper rival’s site, which does not have such a clear “conversational construct”.

She points to the Mail’s blog devoted to issues affecting Muslim communities and the participation of editor Steve Dyson in comment threads as examples of the newspaper’s approach to engaging users.

In contrast, she suggests that opportunities for user interaction on the Express & Star site are harder to find.

Writing in Press Gazette, she notes: “The underlying ethos of each site appears, to a visiting user like myself, to be very different, with the Mail actively soliciting participation and displaying UGC at the top level alongside the professional journalists, while the Express & Star offers facilities for those users who seek it out."

She concludes: “It will be interesting to see how users respond to such a choice” and “how these two giants in the newspaper industry monetise their audiences.”

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