Letter from the Editor 

Thirty years ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I lived in an apartment on Haight Street in San Francisco. Five nights a week, I worked as a watchman at a downtown bank. There was not a lot of action at the bank overnight. In fact, I was the only person in the building. I read books and drank coffee until the sun rose over the Bay Bridge, then rode the bus home.

During the day, I wrote poems, worked on my novel, played guitar, and smoked pot. But after a year or so, ambition and boredom (and the fact that the novel sucked gas) propelled me back to the Midwest and into a career in the newspaper business — where I've been ever since.

But I never lost my love for San Francisco, and whenever I return, I marvel anew at the light, the hills, the fog, the smell of the sea. It's a heady mix of nostalgia and excitement.

Last week, I spent three days there at an alternative newspaper conference devoted to making our websites better, more useful, and, at some point, maybe even profitable. The web business is not terribly unlike the alternative newspaper model: You give your product away to consumers and sell ads to businesses wanting to reach those consumers.

Flyer advertisers know that we put out 55,000 papers each week and that at least 96 percent of them are picked up and presumably read. It's a business model that works.

Website commerce is trickier. There are many ways to measure traffic, and there are many ways to manipulate that traffic. You can juice your "hits" by just putting up an item on, say, Justin Timberlake. But the key to getting readers long-term is to be local and unique — to enhance and expand what you are in print, not to become something totally different.

We've been posting fresh items several times a day on memphisflyer.com for a couple of years. And we plan to expand on that soon. Memphians love their weekly Flyer, but we're moving more toward a "daily" mentality, at least on the Internet.

This week is a perfect example: Our "dead-tree" paper deadline is Tuesday — too early to deliver Super Tuesday results. But on Wednesday, our election coverage and analysis will be online. The future is now. I may have left my heart in San Francisco 30 years ago, but I didn't leave my brain.

Bruce VanWyngarden

brucev@memphisflyer.com

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Blogs

News Blog

UTHSC Awarded Grant to Study Tobacco Use in Military

News Blog

Here Comes the 'Ikea Effect'

Politics Beat Blog

Dems' State Senate Leader Foresees Clashes with Haslam

Politics Beat Blog

Medical Marijuana Coming to Tennessee?

News Blog

MadAir Event on Saturday

Music Blog

River Records' Jerry Gibson Killed in Store

Beyond the Arc

Grizzlies 88, Trail Blazers 86: Haiku Game Notes

Memphis Gaydar

OUTMemphis Set to Host Open House for Area LGBTQ Seniors

ADVERTISEMENT

More by Bruce VanWyngarden

Readers also liked…

  • Vendor in the Grass

    The lady doth protest too much, methinks. — William Shakespeare

    Is there such a thing as "bad activism"? I'm asking because I'm seeing a lot of criticism of the folks who are protesting the Memphis Zoo's encroachment onto the Greensward at Overton Park.

    • Mar 31, 2016
  • Bombs Over Memphis

    • Jul 7, 2016
  • Making Tennessee Great Again!

    I'm writing this from the restroom facility at Big Hill Pond State Park in southern McNairy County. On Monday, I commandeered the building, which contains the men's and women's restrooms, some racks of pamphlets, and two vending machines. There's no one here right now, but I plan to stay as long as necessary to protest the fact that the state of Tennessee is run by oppressive know-nothings who wouldn't know small government — or freedom, for that matter — if it bit them on their considerable backsides ...

    • Jan 7, 2016
ADVERTISEMENT
© 1996-2016

Contemporary Media
460 Tennessee Street, 2nd Floor | Memphis, TN 38103
Visit our other sites: Memphis Magazine | Memphis Parent | Inside Memphis Business
Powered by Foundation