Local US newspaper integrates site with MySpace

A family-owned local newspaper from the American northwest has stolen a march on Rupert Murdoch by integrating its website with MySpace.

Murdoch’s News Corporation is reportedly due to tie in The Sun’s website with the popular social networking platform to create a “MySun” portal, after buying the site in a US$580 million deal last July.

But staff at The Spokesman-Review, which serves Spokane in Washington state, have already created a MySpace profile for its weekly entertainment supplement, 7.

Since launching in February, the pull-out has built relationships with hundreds of “friends” – a mixture of readers and local musicians looking to promote gigs.

“Some of us who’ve been on MySpace for a couple of years had been kicking the idea around and the opportunity presented itself when the print staff decided to do a story about MySpace,” said the paper’s online publisher Ken Sands.

“One of the staffers, Tom Bowers, decided to create the persona. A lot of us, it seems were coming up with the same idea independently.

“It was kind of a no-brainer – local bands, high school and college kids, young adults; the perfect social network. Just getting out there and having contacts – 237 friends so far – is good marketing. There’s a lot of potential for growth, for spending a lot more time interacting with people, doing MySpace events and promotions.”

An increasing number of media properties are creating MySpace profiles to accompany pages on their own sites because of the opportunity to get closer to the site’s massive 66 million user base, many of whom are teenagers.

Murdoch has put the platform at the centre of his empire’s internet strategy and Mr Sands called for journalists to do the same.

“The worst thing about journalism is that we’re all so risk-averse that we’re too damn afraid to try anything until it’s proven because it might fail and we might look bad to our peers and our bosses,” he told journalism.co.uk.

“That whole idea blows. We need to innovate the way hi-tech firms do. Google allows everyone to spend 20 per cent of their work week working on something experimental – some of their products are launched in beta, sometimes for years. We need to adopt this ‘ready-fire-aim’ approach instead of the ponderous ‘ready-steady-aim-aim-aim… fire?’ approach.”