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Traditional News Media Threatened by Online News
by Keith Burton GCN  6/24/07

As more and more people have Internet access in their homes and businesses, an ever growing number of Americans are getting their news from online web sites such as GulfCoastNews.com. This trend is only to continue as Internet use continues to increase. The movement by readers to the Internet for news is disrupting newsrooms across America as newspapers are finding advertisers and readers abandoning traditional newspapers in favor on online news websites.

GulfCoastNews.com is the first major Online-only news site in Mississippi and among the first of its type in the nation. Established in 1999, GCN has grown dramatically in readers since its beginning and especially after Hurricane Katrina when the world discovered the site as a result of interest in the hurricane and this region skyrocketed.

GCN was the first to create an online database of displaced Katrina victims, which provided survivors a way to find people scattered after the evacuations on the Coast and in Louisiana. Its database was used by tens of thousands of people, volunteers and government officials to help locate people. As a result, GCN received a national award for service journalism from the prestigious Online News Association in 2006.

Newspapers and websites around the nation linked to GCN's Survivor-Connector Database in the weeks after the hurricane in 2005, and GCN was featured in news stories in major newspapers and in television news reports around the country. Though you may not have heard about these GCN achievements locally as neither the Sun Herald, or WLOX has ever run a story about GulfCoastNews.com..

The Mississippi Press Association, which held its annual conference at the Beau Rivage this weekend, does not accept membership from an online-only news organization.

Online-only news websites that provide original content such as GCN are not that common on the Internet. Most Internet news websites are operated as adjuncts to the traditional news media. Other online sites with news are often Blog sites, run by individuals or organizations with an interest in news content. But most only link to content generated by the traditional media on their sites. While GCN also links to additional content from news providers, it has its own original content, editorials and special features and photography that can only be found on GulfCoastNews.com.

That aspect of original content, was why GCN was sought out to be a contributing member by a national online news provider, Voxant, which operates a news portal and content website called "the Newsroom," which provides news for websites across the nation. Voxant's news service at www.thenewsroom.com, is affiliated with major news organizations and GCN is its only Mississippi news provider.

GulfCoastNews.com is part of Burton Communications LLC, based in Biloxi. The company, was established by Keith Burton, who has worked in the news business since 1975 including work in radio and TV news as well as newspapers.

GulfCoastNews.com is among the highest-listed news websites on Google for news about the Mississippi Coast. It is number one for search terms "Gulf Coast News" and "Mississippi Coast News," and appears on the first page of most other ways people use on search engines, such as Google, Yahoo, and MSN Search, to find information about the Mississippi Coast. Type in "Biloxi News" or "Gulfport News" in Google and readers will find GCN listed right with other Coast news providers.

GulfCoastNews is visited by more 240,000 people a month, which is larger than many newspapers in Mississippi and is equivalent to the readership of many regional magazines. GCN's readers include decision makers in Washington, business people, as well as both local residents and former residents. GCN is also read frequently by people in the military, FEMA, and by others in the news media from around the nation.

While the traditional print media struggles to find their role on the Internet and how the operate efficiently, GCN is  blazing that trail ahead of them. But don't expect the traditional news media in Mississippi to talk about GCN. Membership in that old news club, as mentioned above, is not allowed.


More Information:

Speaker Sees Newspapers Caught up in Web

Web Changing Journalists - Sun Herald

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