Extended Interview: Brian Gilmore
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TERENCE SMITH: Tell me about what you’re doing and, and then secondly, why. And, in what ways, other than the newspaper, are you getting the information out?
BRIAN GILMORE: Well, the main thing that we’re doing is we’re trying to bring what TV brings to an audience to the Web. So, we’ve geared it towards a Web audience.
We’re producing a three- to four-minute newscast just like you would see on the local news station, but we’re gearing it towards our audience. So, we’re going out. We’re shooting video stories and we’re presenting it just like you would see on TV, but it’s available through a click of the mouse.
TERENCE SMITH: To what degree is the reporting intermingled for the paper and for what you’re doing?
BRIAN GILMORE: It’s very much so and we rely heavily on our newsroom, which is a big benefit to us starting out as a newspaper –
TERENCE SMITH: Right.
BRIAN GILMORE: — and going online. We have a huge base of reporters and they cover all kinds of topics across the whole state. And it’s, you know, such a big area, we couldn’t do it ourselves. So, we rely on them to gather information for stories.
We’ll use them right out of the paper. We’ll use their information during the day. It will help us track down information on stuff we’re trying to chase down if we can’t get there ourselves. So, it’s a total commingling of both sides.
TERENCE SMITH: Do you put the paper’s reporters on air?
BRIAN GILMORE: Sometimes we do. We have a few segments where we’ll say there’s a sports event happening. You know, when the Eagles went to the Superbowl. Well, they’re our local team here.
So, we had one of our sports reporters come up to the desk and Patti [Pettite] will talk to him and, you know, find out the scoop, someone who has inside information with the team.
TERENCE SMITH: This notion of having in effect a television newscast on the Web site, where did it come from? Was it asked for, in the sense, by the viewers of the Web site or what, what’s the thinking behind it?
BRIAN GILMORE: Well, I think it is a combination of things. First of all, video is something that’s still, you know, advancing on the Web. So, it started out as a way to give something extra on our Web site. And what we’re able to bring is just to put up news-style stories on the Web for people to watch.
But the reason behind it is that, the market we’re in is very compatible for this specifically, because there are no TV stations around here.
We’re fed by the Philadelphia market. So, Philadelphia local TV stations have a bureau here, but there’s no, you know, local television stations here in Delaware.
So, we had a market where we knew we could reach people with Delaware-specific news that they couldn’t really get anywhere else, at least, not the amount that we could give them.
TERENCE SMITH: Right. So, how long have you been doing it? How many people are watching it and what’s been the reaction?
BRIAN GILMORE: We started in the beginning of October and so far, the reaction has been very good. We pick up things here and there when we’re out in the field. We hear that people are watching. We hear how much they like to see it. We hear, you know, how great it is; that it’s local Delaware news.
It started out about by tracking the Web numbers, which you can do now. We started out getting about 4,000 people per day watching the broadcasts. Now, that has grown over the past six months up to close to 7,000 a day. So, the numbers are going up.
TERENCE SMITH: That’s 7,000 watching the broadcast versus how many visiting the Web site each day?
BRIAN GILMORE: Well, there’s a couple of ways you could say how many people are coming to the Web site everyday.
We average about 40,000 unique visitors that come to our Web site everyday, 7,000 of which are taking advantage of this broadcast online.
TERENCE SMITH: Um-hum. And do they react to it react to it online? Is there any interactivity to it?
BRIAN GILMORE: There, there hasn’t been anything directly related to the Webcast itself.
There are ways through our Web site to react to everything. There’s ways to e-mail reporters about the news that they read. There’s discussion boards where people can jump on and, you know, discuss either news that’s happening or the way it’s reported or anything like that. And there’s ways you can just e-mail Delaware Online and let us know what you think about new things.
So far, we haven’t had an overwhelming reaction one way or the other towards the Webcast itself. All we know is that more and more people seem to be watching it.
TERENCE SMITH: So, people can set this up, can they, to view it everyday almost automatically?
BRIAN GILMORE: Sure. When you come to our site at 9 o’clock in the morning or at 4 o’clock in the afternoon, this broadcast will launch automatically on your screen. So, as soon as you hit Delaware Online, you’ll see Patti and she’ll start telling you the news. But it’s also available — that happens for an hour.
So, between 9 and 10, between 4 and 5, it launches automatically. Any other time of the day, you can go on and click on and watch it at your leisure, too, which I think is an advantage.
We’re gearing this towards people who are at their workplace, that don’t have time to watch a full 30-minute newscast. They might not have time for that, but they may have time, sitting at their desk, before they leave to go home, to watch a three- to four-minute top video news.
TERENCE SMITH: And, indeed, is that where most of the viewers are, at work?
BRIAN GILMORE: We think so. Obviously, with video, a high speed Internet line is essential to get the quality that you can see on TV. Workplaces have high speed lines.
Of course, broadband is reaching out in homes now, too. So, I think we’re reaching both audiences, but we know a lot of them are at work. We hear while we’re out in the field that people are watching us at work and checking out what happens.
TERENCE SMITH: Does it surprise you that the newspaper has gone in this direction or do you see it as sort of a logical extension of what’s going on in the news business?
BRIAN GILMORE: I think it has to happen. I think that this is just where the industry is going. I think every news organization is combining as much as they can to reach a bigger audience.
You can’t reach people in a newspaper with video, but (if) newspapers have a Web site, you can reach them online. I think it was just bound to happen.
I got into this business because I figured it would happen. So, I’m not surprised of the reaction we’re getting. I’m not surprised that more people are watching.
I think people want these types of things at their leisure and I think we’ve provided that for them.
TERENCE SMITH: Um-hum. Now, do you have other means, other platforms, as they call them, to get either the essence of this Webcast or anything else out? Is there podcasting going on? What, what else is the newspaper doing?
BRIAN GILMORE: Well, yeah, we have various things like that. We have a weekly entertainment magazine that the newspaper puts out as well.
And that’s available online and they do a podcast now where they discuss entertainment things, music, movies, stuff like that, bands that are playing in the area or across the state.
They have a radio show that you can just download on to your iPod or whatever thing you have.
TERENCE SMITH: Is this a radio show that is going out over a radio station owned by the or is it specifically generated for podcasting?
BRIAN GILMORE: Right, generated specifically to go on our Web site, so that people can come on, download it and listen to it when they have time.
TERENCE SMITH: Right. So, how quickly can they download how much material?
BRIAN GILMORE: The podcast itself is probably 20 minutes long. It’s downloaded in pretty much an instant if you have a high speed line and then you can listen to that whenever you want. However quickly we can get it online, you can download it and listen to it.
TERENCE SMITH: Any other examples include — you have a, you have a service for younger people as well? Spark?
BRIAN GILMORE: Spark. Yes, that’s the magazine I’m talking about that comes out weekly and it’s all entertainment oriented. So, that’s available for a younger audience, available online, available in print versions and the podcast is part of that.
There’s lots of ways people can be involved in our site. We have blogs now, too, which are becoming popular and people can comment on those blogs. And they’re done by reporters in our newsroom as well.
TERENCE SMITH: How many?
BRIAN GILMORE: Four, I think we have going now. And they cover a variety of topics. We have a pop culture blog. We have a political blog. We have a sports blog.
And they’re updated daily by these reporters and are available so that people can comment whatever they want. If they have anything to say back, they can say it and it’s done instantly.
TERENCE SMITH: So, what do you think is the overall impact of all of this on either the paper or, maybe more importantly, the consumers?
BRIAN GILMORE: Well, I don’t know that we’re sure yet. I think this Webcast itself is so new, I think we’re still trying to figure out the impact.
We’re gearing it to help everybody, to help the paper, to help us, because we can offer all of these things and bring in more people.
As long as we get them from somewhere, you know, that’s the goal. So, the more things we can offer, the better it’s going to be. I think time will tell.
If more people start doing similar things, if more newspapers start producing Webcasts, you’ll see how much of an impact it is. But I think that story is still to be told.
TERENCE SMITH: And this comes at a time when newspaper circulation nationally is declining. Is it in part a reaction to that?
BRIAN GILMORE: Yeah, I would say that it is in part a reaction to that. I mean, I think no one ever wants to lose their audience.
This outlet gives us a way to bring more people in. As circulation goes down, our Web site hits continue to go up. So, we know that people still want their news. They’re getting it somehow. It just so happens, in this day and age, they’re getting it through the Web.
If we find more ways, like a Webcast, to bring more people in and get more people interested in the news we want to tell, then these reporters can still tell their stories. We can tell our stories and we can reach that audience.
TERENCE SMITH: Um-hum. To what degree do you think this has to do with changes in people’s personal lifestyle and the amount of time that they have available to them to consume the news that you say is important to them?
BRIAN GILMORE: Yeah, I think it has everything to do with how much time people have and how much options are out there. I mean, there are so many cable satellite stations now. There are so many — everything for people to go to. I think people have less and less time for any one specific thing.
And that’s the reason we’re making this newscast short and to the point and it’s because we know people don’t have time, because we can check. And we know people don’t want video for more than three to four minutes online. So, we know people’s time is important to them.
If we can give them something in three minutes that they can’t get from a full TV show, then we feel like we can have an advantage over a television station maybe; that we know our audience and we know how to keep them on board.
So, I think it has everything to do with, you know, the time people have. That’s why we’re doing this. We know people have less time, so we’re giving them something they can fit in.
TERENCE SMITH: Is there any evidence that you know of that any one of these platforms is bringing more readers to the print paper?
I mean, one of the purposes for some news organizations of some of these outlets is to bring new readers to the paper, the original product. Is that your purpose or is that the result?
BRIAN GILMORE: It’s not the purpose of what we’re doing. I think something that’s important to every aspect of this organization — which is print, Web and video — is to make sure people are aware that they have all of these options.
So, we made sure that, in our Webcast, we remind people to buy a newspaper. Now, whether or not that gets people to buy a newspaper, it gets those dwindling numbers up.
I don’t know that we ever, you know, expect any great change out of that. But, it’s essential for us to keep reminding people that these options are out there and because we’re doing that, because in the paper it says go watch a video story of this online, that may get more people to the Web site. So, the numbers overall for our organization seem to be going up. So, that cross-promotion is really important.
TERENCE SMITH: And when you say the numbers overall, you’re referring to?
BRIAN GILMORE: Referring to all — the Web site, the newspaper, the combination of all those things that we provide.
TERENCE SMITH: Right.
BRIAN GILMORE: More people are looking at those things than they were before. Maybe that the paper is going down, but the Web site numbers are going up.
TERENCE SMITH: Right. You mentioned that there is a limit to how much people will watch, even video online. Where is that limit in your head?
BRIAN GILMORE: Well, the limit in my head is, for some reason, at three minutes. That’s because we’ve looked at some numbers.
We used to do longer format packages like you would see on TV and we ranged them between two minutes and five minutes. And we could see where the numbers dropped off and we knew no one was watching longer than three minutes. I think that’s the attention span. For some, for whatever reason, people refused to give more than that amount of time for video.
If someone is at home and they happen to see something longer, they may give it more time. But in my mind, it’s three minutes and we should keep it to that, otherwise, we’ll lose people.
TERENCE SMITH: So, you can tell the story, but you better tell it quickly?
BRIAN GILMORE: That, that’s exactly right.
TERENCE SMITH: That’s very interesting. It may have to do, it seems — speculation on my part — with the medium itself, the tolerance for people in what is called a sit-up-straight medium –
BRIAN GILMORE: Um-hum.
TERENCE SMITH: — that is limited, as opposed to an easy chair medium, which is the traditional television set.
BRIAN GILMORE: Right, and when people buy a paper, generally, they have more time. They sit back and they leaf through the paper and they have time to read it.
On a Web site, there’s all these links available. You want to get stuff fast. And on our Web site, there’s so many things you can get. The Webcast is just part of that.
So, to think that some is going to watch the Webcast on our site for a half an hour is crazy. They can click on links. They can read stories. This is just part of that. So, and every one of those takes only a little bit of time.
TERENCE SMITH: Right.
BRIAN GILMORE: You can read a few paragraphs of each story. You can watch the video to go along with it and still not take up the full half hour.
TERENCE SMITH: So, it has to do really with two things. It has to do with limited time and also a desire, if you sense it, by the reader/viewer to make his or her own decisions as to what they’re going to watch –
BRIAN GILMORE: Right.
TERENCE SMITH: — and how they’re going to watch it?
BRIAN GILMORE: Right, and that’s the great thing about the Web. People have the choice to click on what they want. They’re not at the mercy of, you know, a newscast and what’s still ahead or, or not. They’re here to click on the things they want to learn about.
TERENCE SMITH: Well, let me ask you about the photo gallery on the Web site. How does that work?
BRIAN GILMORE: Well, there’s a couple of things that go along with photo galleries. We have galleries that you can’t get in a newspaper where we’ll take several shots from one event and people can quickly leaf through on our site, click through several pictures of one event.
We also have things where — say, there’s a big storm in Wilmington and there’s people out there taking pictures of the damage or the repair work or whatever. People can take a picture. They can send it in to our site and we can create a community gallery of photos that people have taken around Delaware and put that together.
And people can see their own work on our site. So, that’s another way to, to get people interested in what we’re doing and to actually feel a part of it, too.