Perhaps tired of being hectored about their non-interactive strategy and primitive website, The Jakarta Post took its first steps to confront Web 2.0 in March last year.
Now, almost to a year later the paper is testing the beta version of its news website and Unspun was alerted of this development by Iwan, who wanted to know if Unspun could review it.
So Unspun trooped to the new website and here’s what he found:
- Clean layout, much better than before, with a banner menu up top for easy navigation
- It’s got RSS, a big plus for people who want to track the latest postings (The RSS wasn’t constantly updated in Unspun‘s Netvibes aggregator though, in spite of the website adding on more stories as the day went by).
- They’ve finally incorporated a comments feature that is visible in the first page. Now, if anyone comments on a story you’d know by looking at the first page. Whether The Post would have someone replying to these comments and engage its readers in a conversation Unspun does not know.
- Other than that it’s got the usual features you’d expect a newspaper to have when it’s on the net.
Unspun thinks that while this is a good start the folks at The Post are still stuck in thinking of their website as a newspaper, or the reflection of one. It is not and should not be thought of that way. Marshall McLuhan wrote about the medium being the message. The interactive medium allows for other messages for the Post to send to its readers.
The message has to do with engagement, with conversations and with customization. Done well, The Post’s interactive strategy would create communities among its readers. School children and students are natural groups. There can also be a women’s issues group etc.
The Post could also benefit from one or two of the journalists or guest writers blogging on its site or it could”syndicate” some blog postings. Tempo for instance has Tempo interactive where editors post stories on their blog. In addition they also have personal blogs. Wicaksono’s Ndoro Kakung Pecas Nade, for instance, helps to popularize and humanize Koran Tempo, at least to the blogging community.
Finally, it would also allow readers to customize the type of information they get from The Post, a bit like what you can do with the Financial Times where you specify that you want to be alerted when they run news about a particular issue or company.
But all in all a good start. Let’s hope they do not lose the momentum as they have to realize that their free run in the English-language media is about to come to an end. James Riady is rumored to have recruited a former Far Eastern Economic review managing editor to help the Lippo group’s foray into daily English-language newspapers, now that they have The Globe writing so much good news about the wshed and the rich of Indonesia.