March 30, 2009

Computer-literate with kin in Detroit stand ready

If you know your way around a computer and if you have family or friends in the Detroit area, be ready for the calls for help.

Today's the day the Detroit newspapers stop coming into homes via paper most days of the week or as the Free Press says, starts a digital era.

So get online, read these new versions (Detroit News or Detroit Free Press) and wait for those calls to come in from your less techie friends and family members struggling to get what they need to know.

I say that even though the Detroit media have done some outreach, knowing that "Eye on Detroit as News changes." I say that knowing that none of the 29 people at my house yesterday knew the changes started today. I say that knowing how often I meet people new to email or Internet browsing.

Certainly, promoting the changes took some thought. I like that the plan is to give away thousands of the newsstand editions today. (I clipped part of a photo offered in a Detroit News gallery, showing how some of the hawkers hit the street today.)

I don't think the campaign went far enough and I think the level of digital comfort is underestimated by many.

I like the video (embedded here) using a Michigan musician, an attempt to build excitement for the changes. But it needed more on the specific changes.

Folks at local libraries, community education centers and computer clubs started offering "how to use the Internet" classes in 1995. Similar classes still fill up today.

Perhaps the Detroit media companies have solicited computer-literate mentors to offer hands-on training at local libraries and senior centers.

Perhaps the firms tapped into their Newspaper In Education network of teachers and students and have them prepared to answer the questions of mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers, aunts and uncles.

Perhaps there have been kiosks with working models of the new news at the Cobo Hall shows, senior centers and shopping centers.

Perhaps the owners of computer stores and computer instructors were wined and dined or coffee and donuted so they stand pumped and ready to help. I know there's been an offer out since March 5 that said Reps available for talks. Still I know an offer often is not enough, personal invites are needed.

Perhaps computer screens at area stores throughout the region will point to a Detroit news page, much like all the TV screens in an ad show the same scene.


I still say many of us should expect conversations filled with navigating queries about the new websites.

Some links to reporting on the changes in Detroit:


Post a Comment