Hilary Schneider, the executive vice president of Yahoo!'s local markets and commerce division and Yahoo! Publisher Network, delivered the keynote address at the Online News Association Conference Thursday in Toronto.
Newspapers, Schneider said, need to ask, "How do you make a difference and how do you provide relevant experiences for the users you want to reach?"
Two ways: news organizations should use the Web for deeper coverage and ask users to submit their own content.
Schneider showed examples of powerful user-generated content, such as an ad for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign, which was made up entirely of submitted videos and photos. The ad is testing as well with audiences as professional campaign commercials, Schneider said.
Not all user-generated content is good, but given the chance and the right tools, online communities will bring the best material to the top, Schneider said.
She cited presidential contender John Edwards' campaign site. One user continually posted negative comments, but stopped after another poster began contributing $10,000 to the Edwards' campaign for each negative post, she said.
In addition to making it easier for readers to contribute, the Web makes it easier for journalists to layer their stories, Schneider said.
Reporters can integrate video, photos, maps, links to third-party Web sites and more with text to give readers a deeper experience. She pointed to a Miami Herald package "House of Lies" that incorporates multimedia.
Schneider offered this advice for journalists to consider when thinking about their online operations:
- It's possible to maintain independence and still be aggressive in partnering with other companies.
- Always protect your brand and voice.
- Just because you can do something, such as build your own platform, doesn't mean you should. Use the tools that are readily available.
- Focus and place big bets as you go.
- Seek out partners that share your values.
Read how Hilary Schneider transferred her journalism skills to business success.