Last Friday, I spoke with College Media Network’s Rusty Lewis to attempt to get some more information about the Campus Daily Guide episode we’ve been following (see previous coverage here).
Lewis was gracious enough to respond to every follow-up question I asked. I made it clear that these questions were meant to gain additional understanding for college media advisers and managers who are naturally interested in these efforts.
As a disclaimer, CMN has been a contributing sponsor for our CICM workshops in the past, and the Daily Eastern News (where I am the online news adviser) is a CP network affiliate. I can, however, say that there’s little chance mtvU will drop a Campus Daily Guide in Charleston, IL.
Since this was a telephone conversation, I don’t have an exact transcript, so I’ll try to summarize as best I can his answers to my various questions. Material in quotation marks was transcribed verbatim onto my laptop while we spoke.
First off, Lewis said the sites are still a ways off from being launched, and now CMN is actively seeking input from partner newspapers.
Lewis said the original Campus Daily Guide site (CDG from here forward) was at The Ohio State University, and the other 24 sites should not have been made public on the Internet two weeks ago. “You could consider that a misstep,” he said.
The OSU guide is still viewable, but the other sites are now behind an authentication screen because “there was some buzz about these and they were being scrutinized as an unfinished product,” Lewis said.
As a point of clarification, Lewis said the Wisconsin CDG was supposed to be for UW-Milwaukee (where The Leader is a CP affiliate), not UW-Madison as I wrote in a previous post. However, I do have to say that if you mention “Wisconsin” to most folks, they’ll think of the campus at Madison, not Milwaukee.
Lewis expressed uncertainty as to when the final CDG sites would be officially launched.
“The idea had been that we would launch them before the school year,” he said. “But as we get into the details, it could creep away from us.”
The original CDG cities were chosen based on “market research,” Lewis said, with selection based on where mtvU though there was a void.
“There’s certain markets where there’s not enough going on, for a substantial listings and a guide” to serve the locale. “Something like New York City, there’s a bit of a saturation there.”
Even though the CDGs included some markets where there is no CMN relationship, Lewis said the company is not focusing on those markets yet. The original plan was for CDGs to eventually appear in about 50 markets total.
For now, however, “We’re focusing on the 18 or 19 of these sites where we do have a newspaper,” he said. In those locations, CMN and mtvU will be looking to “see how they perform based on that relationship.”
CDG is not being run by CMN, but as another “sub-brand” of mtvU. The original idea for the CDGs came out of mtvU as well. According to whois.net, the campusdailyguide.com domain was registered by Viacom on Sept. 6, 2006, a month after the announcement that mtvU was purchasing College Publisher.
The CDGs are a cooperative development project between mtvU and zvents.com, which also provides content aggregation software and services for a number of media companies (see a list of partners here).
Lewis said CMN has been contacting member newspapers in the cities where CDGs are planned, and, so far “all of the conversations have been positive.”
Lewis hopes the CDG sites will “attract new readership for the newspapers.”
Lewis said that because the guides are being developed by another arm of mtvU, it has no impact on the rollout of version 5.0 of the College Publisher content management system.