Newspapers & social media: CO Daily’s stupid Facebook trick

Facebook Friends box, Colorado Daily, May 13, 2009

Facebook Friends box, Colorado Daily, May 13, 2009=

I was just out to lunch with Tom Vilot, and he pointed out to me one of the stupidest things I’ve ever seen a print newspaper do. He slapped the Colorado Daily onto the table and pointed to the upper-right corner of the tabloid’s table of content page. There, in that important bit of visual real estate, I saw this “Facebook Friends” box (see right).

OK, I snapped that picture with my crappy iPhone camera, I know it’s fuzzy. Here’s what it says:

“Status updates from Facebook users who’ve become friends of the Colorado Daily. To join, go to ColoradoDaily.com and follow the Facebook link.

  • Ed Post is kinda disappointed with his lunch.
  • Evan Taksar is already ready to go back to Boulder. WHO IS WITH ME?
  • Natalie Pritchett: Cookie dough for breakfast 2 mornings in a row can’t be good but gotta try it out b4 i pass it out! yum!”

I kid you not. This is, without a doubt, the stupidest thing I have ever seen a news organization try to do with social media.

What is the point here? It could have been, at the very least, to highlight some particularly intriguing things noted by the Colorado Daily’s Facebook friends. But instead it appears the paper went out of its way to choose the most inane comments, thus putting their worst face forward.

This, in my opinion, is worse than if the print edition of the paper ignored social media entirely. It’s using valuable print real estate to devalue that news brand’s print and online efforts. It’s almost as if someone at the CO Daily either really hates social media, or doesn’t get it, or both. This strategy is so bad that it nearly smacks of self-sabotage.

I applaud news organizations getting involved with social media, and integrating it into print efforts. And the Colorado Daily does a moderately decent job of communicating via Twitter. But this? Arrrrrggggghhhhh….

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3 thoughts on Newspapers & social media: CO Daily’s stupid Facebook trick

  1. Wow. Overreact much?

    Seriously, though… the Colorado Daily is a newspaper largely read by a college audience, an audience that also is largely on Facebook. That’s why we use Facebook extensively to interact with those readers by posting links to our articles, soliciting help with stories we’re working on and collecting news tips and feedback via wall posts, direct messages and chat.

    As part of that, we use “Facebook Friends” as a way to get some of our readers into our print edition, and provide a snapshot of what’s going on in their thoughts/lives — whatever that may be — as we see it filter past in Facebook’s news stream. Some of it’s serious, some of it’s not — that’s what Facebook (and Twitter, for that matter) is.

    Most of all, though, we want it to be entertaining for our readers.

    (It’s also, incidentally, quite a popular feature; we regularly have people request that their status updates be used, and others who thank us on Facebook, Twitter, etc., after we publish their names and updates.)

    It’s a fun, light feature, nothing more. It’s pretty disingenuous to dismiss the entire concept in such overwrought and hyperbolic fashion after having seen it a grand total of one time in the paper. This is the stupidest thing you’ve ever seen a news organization do with social media? Really?

    I mean, it’s not like we Twittered a child’s funeral.

    Matt Sebastian
    Editor, Colorado Daily

  2. Perhaps this newspaper has realized that social media will kill it’s very existence and is trying to less social media itself by showing meaningless updates from random members on Facebook.

    They don’t get it…we don’t care what they say the news is.

  3. To the so-called editor of the Colorado Daily: you should be glad someone is reading your “stuff” and bothering to give you feedback instead of responding with a junior high-esque attacking comment of “Wow. Overreact much?”

    Instead of defending the piece in the paper (and yes, it IS stupid), why not take useful feedback from serious reader? I don’t know what Colorado Daily’s mission is, but if you’re going for “entertainment” and not news: why not just apply for a job at People, or some of the more lucrative gossip rags? Even with those, you’d have to amp-up your writing style from your colloquial adolescent tone.

    And the child’s funeral comment: maybe that’s part of another thread I don’t know about, but what a tacky thing to write! Are you 12 years old?

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