May 24, 2007

How's Your Paper?

It seems that each newspaper is handling the transition to the web differently. I have been reading every day for a long time, with a free online subscription. I doubt I've clicked on any of their banner ads. I am not sure what content I am missing from the printed version, as it seems they put everything that's important in their online edition. While I am sure that my readership is of some value to the AJC, I don't know how they're making any money online.

In Florida, I read the Panama City Newsherald. I pay just over a quarter a day for an online subscription. They deliver the online version in pdf-like format with a software system called Olive. It's a weird interface. You get to see the paper laid out just as it is in print, which is kind of nice to see the placement of articles and photos. But you have to click on an article to read it, which opens up another window with larger text. It would be eaiser for the reader if they just did the entire site in web text (html, xml, whatever they use), and left out the Olive part.

It would also be easier on their print advertisers, because unless the ad is big, you can't read it in Olive software. And it's funny, because even though I don't click on the "" or "Hitachi" banner ads online, I do sometimes want to see the printed ads in the newspaper. Because printed ads in the newspaper have deals and information locally in which I may be interested.

They have improved recently, making sure that breaking news is updated the same day instead of in tomorrow's edition. But they've added this weird video preview of tomorrow's stories every afternoon. What's weird about it? To me, I go to a paper for the journalism and writing. It would be easier to have their writers post small intros to what they're working on, instead of a video of an editor talking about tomorrow's stories. If they want to be videographers and video journalists, go work for the local tv station. I know video on the web is hot -- and actually a great way to demonstrate your products and services online -- but my newspaper is the last place I want to see it.

Bottom line: newspapers are obviously still evolving in the digital world, and it's interesting to see what the best models will be. My guess is that their online editions will be sponsored and free, and that any print editions will focus mainly on local stories and photography that you won't be able to find online and from the major news sources. National and World news online, Local News and Photos in print.

What do you want out of your newspaper?

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