by Michelle Auer and Becky Sun
- The Winnipeg Free Press is giving the meaning of social media a new twist — a traditional one. Many businesses encourage comments and feedback via email, Facebook, Twitter and other electronic means, and so does this newspaper. But it has also opened its own café to encourage more face-to-face interactions and community engagement.
- In a addition to getting to getting a bite to eat, patrons can chat with a rotating line-up of reporters, columnists and editors who will be working at the café, where there is a permanent office (EditorsWeblog.org, 2 September 2011).
- The News Café also wants to be Winnipeg’s gathering place. To that end, there are book readings, mini-concerts, community fundraisers, workshops and other events. For example, on October 4 the results of the Manitoba elections were live-streamed there.
- The Free Press’s endeavor is the first of its kind in Canada. (The Register Citizen in Connecticut has a similar newsroom cafe.)
WHAT THIS MEANS TO BUSINESS
- Canadians are about as connected as the rest of the developed world, but there is no substitute for in-person interactions for immediacy, transparency and greater understanding.
- Consumers welcome having their opinions heard by a real person. Newspapers, in turn, gain a lot of goodwill — not to mention story ideas — by being more accessible.