20110209-re-0101
Linda Turner reaps the rewards of being
The Ind’s 1,000th Facebook follower.
Wednesday, February, 2011
Written by Walter Pierce

We gnashed our teeth and furrowed our brow, but The Ind has finally joined the social media revolution.

It took a running start, but The Independent Weekly has successfully made the leap. Into 2008. I think I tweaked a hammy.

Until late last year we had been pretty turn-of-the-21st-century in our approach to disseminating news: print first, then web, with the INDsider daily email being the oxygen-deprived peak of our technological savvy. But a few months ago we started a Facebook page and recently surpassed 1,000 fans. We were so beside ourselves by eclipsing this plateau that we bestowed upon that 1,000th fan, Linda Turner, a restaurant gift certificate and an Ind sweatshirt. I have little doubt Linda thought our enthusiasm was fairly and squarely country-come-to-town.

We’ve also added the option at theind.com of sharing our content on Facebook, Twitter, Digg and Stumbleupon. The latter two I’m unfamiliar with, but I can tell you that stories we publish to our blog automatically feed to our Facebook page and Twitter account via what I imagine is an elaborate system of tubes and digital aqueducts.

We took it one step further last week when I was trained to actually use Twitter, to tweet, as it’s called, a word that is obviously the most void of testosterone in the glossary of digital nomenclature.

As best I can tell Twitter is the most refined of the social networking tools. You have 140 characters including spaces between words in which to tweet, or communicate. It demands an economy of expression, and communicative conventions — idioms unique to Twitter — have rapidly evolved.

Probably like many longtime users of Facebook I was skeptical of Twitter to the point of learning nothing about it. Last week our IT consultant helped me install TweetDeck on my PC — TweetDeck is a software program that allows one to not only manage a Twitter account but to monitor activity on the site; we follow the tweets of other local and state media — and within 24 hours of actively tweeting rather than simply allowing our headlines to feed to Twitter, the number of people following us on the site went up about 12 percent.

Many of you reading this are probably seeing it on a printed page and have never used Facebook or Twitter. They are for the most part repositories of vanity, superfluous data and the unimportant detritus of daily living. But they’ve also become an essential means of communication for many. And while I could walk past 75 percent of my Facebook “friends” on the sidewalk and not even recognize them, I also hardly ever use my personal email account anymore — it’s easier and more immediate communicating through Facebook.

Not coincidental to all this changing focus on message and medium, I attended an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies web conference in San Francisco recently with Ind co-publisher Cherry Fisher May. Session after session underscored just how rapidly news consumers are moving away from print — and from TV and radio — and to digital media for their information. And they’re doing it increasingly through mobile devices such as smart phones and the iPad.

This digital evolution has been stunning to a late Cretaceous dinosaur such as myself. I recall the late 1990s when, as the entertainment editor at The Daily Advertiser, the World Wide Web was introduced in the office. I remember thinking, “Hmmm. This is neat. It’ll make research easier.”
I had no idea where it was headed. I still have no idea.

But I know the pressure on print will mount as these digital media successfully compete for the ad revenue that pays our bills. Next is figuring out how to make digital media profitable for journalism.

In the meantime, you can get links to our stories at Facebook.com/TheInd. Follow us on Twitter at Twitter.com/TheInd.

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