OWH’s own Slam Omaha? More from Fun City…

Category: Blog — @ 5:59 pm July 5, 2006

So what is the Omaha World-Herald myspace all about? It was brought to my attention in an e-mail that said, “Well, there goes SLAMOmaha.” The OWH‘s “new” Omaha.com site will feature a database that will “include band descriptions, photos, rosters, MP3s and discographies, and the entries will also cross-reference upcoming performances of each band, which will also be displayed in a new calendar section.” Hmmm… sounds like SLAM to me, without the “discussion boards.” And judging by the number of bands on their myspace “friends” page, bands are eager to sign up.

There was a time, not so long ago, when SLAMOmaha.com was thee online destination for local bands and music fans, sporting one of the most up-to-date gig calendars anywhere, thanks to the bands themselves, who were responsible for maintaining the calendar. Will the new Omaha.com “bands” site be maintained by the bands, too? I have to believe that’s the only way it’ll work if it’s going to be kept up-to-date. I can’t imagine the OWH is eager to dedicate a warm body to taking phone calls whenever a band changes drummers or lines up a gig at O’Leaver’s.

Regardless of how they maintain it, the idea is an interesting step taken by a newspaper that’s been accused of being out of touch with the city’s youth — a demographic that they’re going to have to attract eventually if they want to keep printing papers, right? Right?

Come on. Reading the OWH is a rite of passage, an affliction that occurs after you get married, have kids, change your political affiliation and quit listening to good music. For years acquaintances at the paper have told me about management’s ongoing concern that OWH readership is “dying,” and that the next generation has no interest in reading a printed newspaper. The Internet and cable TV are their preferred sources for news (if they’re interested in news at all). What they fail to understand (or admit) is that kids didn’t read the OWH in the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s or ’90s, either. Their parents did. But after they moved out, got married and had kids of their own, they found themselves with a whole lot more time around the house, and suddenly that newspaper looked a bit more interesting.

Will the advent of new technology break that circle? I don’t think so. But the OWH does, and that’s why you’re seeing them develop databases for rock bands as a desperate attempt to attract young eyeballs, to get next-geners comfortable with going to omaha.com for information so that maybe — just maybe — they’ll start picking up a newspaper, too. They certainly can’t be doing it for the ad revenue.

Though it’s not mentioned on their myspace page, I have to assume that the new omaha.com will also host discussion boards. If not, this ain’t gonna work. It may not work anyway. All the old-time Slammers who lived on the music and “cool talk” boards migrated away from the site a long time ago, preferring to take their chatter to Live Journal. And I can’t imagine the Herald allowing unmonitored discussions on their server.

… and speaking of the OWH… Yours truly made it into the pages again for the first time since he was the editor of The Gateway 100 years ago. Yesterday’s issue included an editorial titled “The Quest for Coolness,” that refers to “a local blogger” who is “beside himself that anyone could possibly consider Omaha a Fun City.” They went on to quote from my Fun City column. Pity they didn’t have the stones to either mention The Reader (where the column also appeared) or my website’s address. It’s common knowledge that The OWH doesn’t acknowledge any non-OWH-controlled local media sources in print. You will never see the words “The Reader” mentioned in them thar pages, nor KETV or 1620 The Zone. Ain’t happening. Strange policy. Despite what their paranoid editors may think, the OWH ain’t in competition with The Reader, local television or even “local bloggers.” In the minds of 98 percent of their readers, they own the Omaha news hole. So what are they afraid of?

As for the editorial (located here): If the paper and the Chamber of Commerce think the answer to Omaha’s “quest for coolness” is to bring in more national-chain retail outlets like Cheesecake Factory and Williams-Sonoma, then so be it. They get what they deserve. I guess we all should take the approach of the Omaha World Herald and self-help guru Stuart Smalley and just keep saying to ourselves “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and, doggonit, people like me!” And for god’s sake, enough with the “misguided grumbling.” After all, we do live in FUN CITY!

Back to music tomorrow with a profile of An Iris Pattern’s Greg Lofits.

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