The online NS journal that breaks all the net’s rules

Harvard’s prestigious Nieman Foundation for Journalism has cast its discerning eye on a Nova Scotia online journal that succeeds while disdaining all the internet rules:

How a tightly paywalled, social-media-ignoring, anti-copy-paste, gossipy news site became a dominant force in Nova Scotia

Every morning, the business and political elite in the biggest province on Canada’s East Coast turns to an unlikely source of information about their own world.

Among all the online news organizations trying to find a way to profitability, consider AllNovaScotia.com, which has just celebrated 10 years online and now challenges its historic print rival for the attention of the province’s leaders.

It’s done that by not following the rules: It has a nearly impenetrable paywall, no social media presence, no multimedia, and only rare use of links. It doesn’t cover crime and barely covers sports and entertainment.

It is astounding that AllNS has succeeded so throughly while flouting so many Internet conventions—astounding, and often irritating. I wish it were less paywalled and more open to the sociable aspects of the web that seem to me enlivening and enriching. But this is a position publisher David Bentley and his editor-daughter Caroline Woods view with ill-disguised contempt.

it’s hard to argue with the results. AllNovaScotia doesn’t prove that other models can’t work on the internet, but it affirms something at least as ennobling: that there can be a profitable market for dogged, meaty reporting.

Commenter Gavin Anderegg shares my irritation at the deliberate impediments to sharing, but adds:

I was missing the point while focusing the platform. This site wasn’t for me. Sure they could fix these issues (and probably should), but all everyone else cared about was the content. And for such an aged looking site that doesn’t care about social media, AllNovaScotia beats Twitter to the punch when delivering certain types of local news.

After a while I started to understand: people are willing to pay read well written, properly investigated, and timely content. This is especially true when you can identify a niche group and write specifically for them.

Content comes first at AllNovaScotia. That’s the key.

The 1,700-word piece is written by King’s journalism professor Tim Currie and [disclosure] briefly quotes Contrarian.


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