It seems like newspapers everywhere are revamping their web sites in hopes of staying ahead of the wave of people going online to get their news. The Eureka Reporter unveiled its site in December, and a couple months the Times-Standard released the lastest version of its site.
The previous version of the Times-Standard was chaotic and hard to look at. While this version is an improvement, there is still way too much going on, particularly on the home page.
For one thing they have lots of ads and if any of them are animated this lends a feeling of chaos. Also, the nature of ads, unless they are carefully controlled, is that they clash with the overall design. Their whole point is to draw attention to themselves and away from the content. Additionally, they are still using annoying pop up ads. I realize they need to find a way to monetize their content, but those things are so aggravating they are probably more a net negative to advertiser. Of course, I don’t have any metrics to back this up. Just my personal reaction.
Additionally, the T-S wants to become more than just a newspaper, with video and blogs, an event calendar and more. But they seem to want to cram links to everything on to the home page. And today, they had not one, but two embedded videos competing for my attention.
I like that you can still comment on articles. But I’m not sure what value the location tool is since it uses the IP you are assigned by your ISP and that could be any number of locations. It’s just confusing.
But the bigger question here is will all of these new web sites save newspapers in the long run? Does the revenue earned from online ads really offset the cost? How can newspapers compete with Craig’s List? And with so many options for news will newspaper web sites be able to retain their importance as a primary news source? Eric Alterman’s recent essay in the New Yorker subtitled “The death and life of the American newspaper” notes the following statistic:
Only nineteen per cent of Americans between the ages of eighteen and thirty-four claim even to look at a daily newspaper. The average age of the American newspaper reader is fifty-five and rising.
But if newspapers, that pay for original reporting disappear, where will we get the news that bloggers like me comment on? What will we link to? I think as newspapers die, a new model will rise as the hunger for information does not seem to be diminishing, but growing.