Quick question: How many times today have you checked Facebook?
Scrolled through your email inbox?
If you’re like most people, the answer is: probably a lot. A recent study commissioned by Nokia found that the average person checks their smartphone 150 times per day, or once every six-and-a-half minutes.
So it should come as no surprise that times have changed in the print newspaper business. Readers are increasingly getting their news online. And The Malibu Times is putting out multiple products to deliver it to you there. Let me tell you about a few of them.
The process began almost a year ago when we completely overhauled our website. Now, in addition to the in-depth stories in our print edition each week, readers can find three or four news items on our website each day. You can also read regular blog posts about wildlife (from biologist Reese Halter), parenting (from psychologist Susan Stiffelman) and the latest from our star 8-year-old blogger Duna Divito, whose debut video about safety on Pacific Coast Highway garnered more than 4,000 hits and interview requests from KPCC and NBC Los Angeles.
A couple weeks ago, we added a live surf cam stream of three local beaches (First Point, Leo Carrillo and Zuma) to our home page through our partners at surfit.com. Viewers can zoom and control the camera themselves to check out the surf conditions.
Perhaps our most successful new feature came a few months after the new website launched last year. Our Daily Headlines newsletter sends a simple, easy-to-read email each morning to 4,500 inboxes that contains all the news that has happened in Malibu within the past 24 hours. It is entirely free, and we have received overwhelmingly positive feedback from readers who say it keeps them educated about what is going on around town. To subscribe, all you have to do is go to our website, scroll down on the right side of the home page below the surf cam, and click on the box titled “Newsletter Signup.”
Do you follow us on Facebook or Twitter? If not, you might be interested to know that they are likely the best sources for Malibu traffic conditions and other breaking news on the Internet. When breaking news happens, such as a brush fire or an accident on PCH, we often post a notice about it within five minutes on both of our pages. We also post reader-submitted photos and videos from around town.
In addition to Facebook and Twitter, this past summer we added Instagram and Pinterest pages with the help of two intrepid interns. Reader-submitted input is the name of the game these days. If you have a great photo of the beach, a sunset, a canyon or any other beautiful scene from around Malibu, send it to our Instagram account at #MTBestShot and we’ll consider using it in the newspaper as The Malibu Times Best Shot photo.
Here’s another cool new feature. Two weeks ago we unveiled the first episode in our “Ask an Editor” video series (you can find episodes on our website, Facebook and Twitter pages). The concept is simple: Readers submit any question they have about a current issue in Malibu to our Facebook and Twitter pages, then we research them and provide answers in a short video. The wall between reporter and reader has never been so fluid.
If all of this sounds less like a traditional newspaper and more like a blog, that’s in part because it is. The dynamic between newspapers and their readers is changing. Instead of us gathering information, printing stories and calling it a day, now we are actively interacting with readers online to solicit feedback and answer questions. Since embarking on this online thrust, we have seen our website traffic more than triple, our Facebook and Twitter followers more than double, and our overall reach expand to where we can impact the community debate in ways previously unimaginable.
If you are someone who likes to get your news quickly and in a variety of different ways, take a look at all the new features we have to offer, and stay tuned because we’re working on bringing you more as we speak.