Tuesday I finally got to meet Christy Frink and Morgan Levy, the two brains behind Nashvillest.com. For anyone who may be unfamiliar with the site, it’s basically a digested version of all the daily news and local happenings in and around Nashville.
I can’t tell you how much I enjoy this site as an alternative to the stale, confusing web sites from other publications. But while big Nashville media may go through years of growing pains before nailing the web, the content they produce is stellar. During our conversation, Christy actually pointed out that after reading every local report on a daily basis, it was often the newspapers, specifically the Tennessean who had the best articles. I want to say it surprised me, but really I can’t. I’ve had a million conversations with other journalists about how changing the medium an organization reports in can be disastrous, but the reporting is usually left in tact.
Content is important, but if you can’t formulate it in such a way that people want to read it then your basically just spinning your tires until the advertising dollars cannot support the weight of the production. Christy and Morgan, as far as I was told, have no formal print newspaper experience. Perhaps that’s what makes them more qualified to cultivate a community of people who care about what’s happening in Nashville. It was interesting to hear Christy talk about fan letters, tips, Photo pools, etc. Why aren’t the big papers using these tools to aid their reporting?
Because the lethargic print era newsrooms don’t know what to do with a community other than report about it. Christy, and Nashvillest, get it right. By taking the News and formulating it for people to understand — to digest — they succeed in leading the community. But they need quality, unbiased reports by dedicated beat writers. By the same token, the newspapers need to expand the scope of their reporting to reach further and dig deeper. And they need sites like Nashvillest to continue digesting it into something the new media kids can understand long enough to click the link and read the rest of the article in its entirety.
I’m expanding this idea in a NewAssignment.net post. I’ll update whenever it’s published.