Being out of the loop means I’ve missed the launch of two college-targeted social networking sites by major newspaper organizations.
Rachele Kanigel mentioned the two sites in theÂ Student Newspaper Survival weblog: Another invasion on college media turf. Now there are three of these experiments, and BigLickU looks like a grandparent, age-wise, since it’s been up and running since March.
The Loop is aimed at college students in Rochester and surrounding areas. It’s run by a Gannett paper. According to the Democrat and Chronicle story:
The Loop, a partnership of the Democrat and Chronicle and seven area colleges, formally debuts today on the Web at RocLoop.com. The site is largely staffed by students at those colleges.
Besides the newspaper, the partners are the State University Colleges at Brockport and Geneseo, St. John Fisher, Nazareth, Roberts Wesleyan, Rochester Institute of Technology and Monroe Community College, and there are plans to expand to others.
Swocol tries to serve the area around Dayton, Ohio. From the Dayton Daily News story:
On Wednesday, Cox Ohio Publishing launched Swocol.com â€” a Web site targeting the area’s nearly 70,000 college students enrolled at the University of Dayton, Wright State University, Sinclair Community College and Miami University in Oxford.
Both sites have a little bit different models for content production. Rachele mentioned that the sites are trying to steal readers from college media organizations. That’s a given. But I’m more concerned about what else they are trying to take: your writers.
If I were a college media adviser, I’d be more worried about The Loop, which – according to the D&C story – will rely heavily on college students to produce content – even content for class credit.
Think about it: A professional daily newspaper partnering with colleges to produce a product using student workers. If that’s not a perfect storm of trouble brewing for campus media, I can’t imagine what is. Competition for ad dollars, competition for student workers, and competition for eyeballs/readers. And the content can be as college-specific as your student media.
Check out our previous coverage of BigLickU. On Jan. 30, when I first wrote about this, I said college media should ramp up their online presence’s in anticipation of such moves by big media companies. That advice becomes more urgent as we enter a new semester.