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Washington Post Reviews its 10 Years on the Web

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the i-also-collect-spores-molds-and-fungus dept.

95

anaesthetica writes "The Washington Post is featuring three stories today reviewing their experience in adapting the "old media" to the new environment of the web. The first article examines their revelation that 'The news, as "lecture," is giving way to the news as a "conversation".' The second looks at the 'Kaiser memo' which served as the germinating point for what would become WashingtonPost.com, phrased in language that today seems amusingly quaint. The final article looks at the death of traditional print newspapers as consumers flock to internet sources for their news."

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If only they'd drop the registration (4, Insightful)

Eevee (535658) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565398)

I would start reading them. Instead, I keep going back to the BBC.

Re:If only they'd drop the registration (2, Informative)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565439)

"I would start reading them. Instead, I keep going back to the BBC."

Yeesh, you only gotta do it once. They don't even validate the email address. That's what cookies are for, lazypants. :P

Only once? (3, Insightful)

Eevee (535658) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565568)

That would be once for my laptop, once for my desktop system, once for my primary machine at work, once for the kiosk in the server room, twice for the kiosks in the lab...all being redone every time I clean out the cookies.

But the problem is it's not just the Post. There's all these newspapers doing it. Repeatedly, I've had people send me links to what I would assume are interesting stories...only to be hit with a registration page. If I'm not willing to put up with the hassle for my local paper, I'm sure not going to bother for the West Bumfuck Tribune out of Idaho. CNN, Fox News(1), ABC News, even MSNBC aren't doing registrations, so guess who gets my traffic.

------------------

(1) Yeah, like I'd really follow Fox News.

Re:Only once? (3, Insightful)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565683)

"That would be once for my laptop, once for my desktop system, once for my primary machine at work, once for the kiosk in the server room, twice for the kiosks in the lab..."

It'd be once for the machine you're reading the story on. Don't be dramatic. :P

"If I'm not willing to put up with the hassle for my local paper, I'm sure not going to bother for the West Bumfuck Tribune out of Idaho. CNN, Fox News(1), ABC News, even MSNBC aren't doing registrations, so guess who gets my traffic."

Okay... so you're unwilling to type in some garbage to get through the reg page, instead preferring to go hunting for the story (if it's even there) on one of the other 4 sites that you've mentioned.

You know, I can understand some of the annoyance here. I work across 3 different machines every day. I'm not oblvious to the problems you're mentioning. But, man, I just don't understand the panty-bunching about it on Slashdot. By the time you've spent that (minimum of) 20 seconds typing that comment, you would have been in already.

Re:Only once? (1)

bit01 (644603) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565774)

But, man, I just don't understand the panty-bunching about it on Slashdot. By the time you've spent that (minimum of) 20 seconds typing that comment, you would have been in already.

It's not 20 seconds, it's 2 minutes times however news sites you read across however many computers you read your news on times however often your cookies get cleared times the small loss in privacy times the number of spam-target email addresses it's necessary to create and remember passwords for times however many broken registration screens there are.

Stuff 'em. The BBC is one of the best mainstream news sites out there and in general the idiots who think their news is worth mandatory registration for just that; idiots. Website administrators who think mandatory registration is a good idea are likely to be the sort of people I want to avoid anyway.

---

Keep your options open!

Re:Only once? (0, Offtopic)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565823)

"It's not 20 seconds, it's 2 minutes..."

I just timed myself doing it, took 25 seconds.

"...times however news sites you read..."

I think I've encountered like 4 of these in the last 2 years. (LaTimes, WashingtonPost, NYT, and... one Portland I cannot remember the name of.) How many are you hitting?

"across however many computers you read your news on"

Why would you read this story, then go hopping to all your machines and logging in there, too? The answer is, you wouldn't. Again, don't be dramatic.

"times however often your cookies get cleared"

That's on you. Although it wouldn't be super difficult to come up with a simple username password. You've done it with Slashdot already, obviously this isn't such a huge inconvenience. It might take 30 seconds instead of 25 for this to work.

"times the small loss in privacy"

You can have that one.

"times the number of spam-target email addresses it's necessary to create"

Great, I get to repeat myself. These sites don't validate email addresses. Type. In. Garbage. Derr.

"times however many broken registration screens there are"

Wow, can't say I've ever seen that. Bad way to run a business, heh.

"Website administrators who think mandatory registration is a good idea are likely to be the sort of people I want to avoid anyway."

Fine, no problemo. I just have two questions:

1.) Why bitch about it on Slashdot?

2.) Were you aware that even though this link says 'post' in the domain, the link doesn't require login? Heh.

In any event, I'm not thrilled with reg-req sites, either. Is it really necessary to blow things out of proportion with them? We're all saavy web users here, let's not get creative about how inconvenient they are. "But but but I hate filling things out and remembering passwords, even though I frequent several web-forums!"

Re:Only once? (1)

bit01 (644603) | more than 8 years ago | (#15575649)

I think all your points are arguable but I don't want to get into a point slinging match. Readers can decide.

I'd like to make a couple of other points though: one is that this is an "I don't mind and you don't matter" situation. The website administrators clearly aren't interested in creating creating the best experience they can for the reader when they do this. Fortunately others are.

Also remember that one of the reasons you don't see it much is in part because of people you regard as unreasonable (like me!) complaining about it. Count your blessings. Reminds me of this quote:

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.
--- George Bernard Shaw

Maybe you should be a little less "reasonable"?

---

Marketing talk is not just cheap, it has negative value. Free speech can be compromised just as much by too much noise as too little signal.

Re:Only once? (3, Insightful)

bheer (633842) | more than 8 years ago | (#15567685)

Mandatory registration definitely sucks, but IMO you're making a mountain out of a molehill.

> The BBC is one of the best mainstream news sites out there and in general the idiots who think their news is worth mandatory registration for just that

The BBC can afford to do that because every UK television-owning household is paying for it -- over $250 a year IIRC. And a lot of them do chafe at what they're getting in the bargain. And if you think the BBC doesn't have an agenda, you're seriously deluded. (That doesn't mean the BBC doesn't run good stories, but that people who think 'the Beeb' is the be-all and end-all of news are unknowningly trapping themselves into the BBC's worldview without even knowing it.)

Me, I'll continue to get my news from the maximum number of sources that's feasible for me. And frankly, I do my newsreading on my laptop (why would I be looking for news in the server room at work?) so it's simply not a big deal.

Re:Only once? (1)

bit01 (644603) | more than 8 years ago | (#15575469)

I agree; multiple news sources are a good idea. That's why I qualified my praise of the BBC by calling it "one of the best mainstream" news sources rather than simply "the best".

All news sources must select what stories they run. That alone creates bias. How they phrase the stories also creates bias. In addition, readers create their own bias by selecting what news sources they read and by interpreting the stories they read. Marketers pay for bias by spamming their biased messages across multiple news sources.

That $250 you're complaining about pays for multiple TV stations, multiple radio stations, a high quality website, program development and an organisational mission which includes education as well as entertainment. I like their bias; unlike most commercial news sources they also do try to adhere to something like wikipedia's "neutral point of view" [wikipedia.org] . The BBC is far better value for money for the people of Britain than the so-called "free market" alternatives are for the people of the USA.

---

Marketing talk is not just cheap, it has negative value. Free speech can be compromised just as much by too much noise as too little signal.

Re:Only once? (2)

Firehed (942385) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565799)

If all news spawned from the same source, sure. Every newspaper site, it seems, wants to mine your data, and force you to do a registration for it. One or two times, it's managable (I've done it for the NY Times, I think that's it - and that was part of a school project that I had no way around), but for every flipping newspaper's website is insane. I suppose if they're listed on bugmenot.com I'm not especially bothered, but I'd rather not be spammed by a hundred news sites, let alone remember whether they want my email address (and which one I used), the array of passwords that can't be the same because they all have different requirements and if I'd actually registered. I can't recall the number of times I've randomly guessed for a while assuming I'd registered at one point, only to discover I never had.

So I too have said screw it, and just google anything problematic, wait for someone to transcribe the article into a post, or ignore it entirely.

Re:Only once? (2, Informative)

myth_of_sisyphus (818378) | more than 8 years ago | (#15567004)

That's why "BugmeNot" is one of the greatest extensions ever created. I click on a link, get confronted by a reg page, right click, down to BugmeNot, and I'm in.

3 seconds.

Re:Only once? (2, Insightful)

zCyl (14362) | more than 8 years ago | (#15567402)

By the time you've spent that (minimum of) 20 seconds typing that comment, you would have been in already.

But every time someone says "Screw it" and doesn't register, their web stats will record someone who reached the registration page, but gave up before making it through to see their news and their banner ads (and any business worth its salt should be examining viewing patterns). Enough of that, and they will conform to a less annoying policy. Nearly every news article is in a few dozen sources anyway, so it's usually not worth doing it their way when I can just as easily avoid supporting an approach which annoys me.

Re:Only once? (1)

Maelwryth (982896) | more than 8 years ago | (#15567543)

True but isn't the primary problem in my veiw. The biggest problem with having to register to enter is I haven't seen the product. If I don't know what the Washington Post is like, I'm not going to pay to find out.


Google news does it well. I can get to the newspapers. I get a broad range of veiws. It's not cluttered. I don't have to worry about the newspapers agenda (as much) because I'm getting stories from China's angle, as well as the State's and quite often on the same subjects.


BBC has some good stories, but (after the top three) they expect you to chose them from the headline without an excerpt. eg;BBC says, "US troops face Iraq death charges", Google says,"Three US soldiers accused of Iraq murder (The Age, Australia - 9 hours ago)... Premeditated murder charges can bring the death penalty under US military law. The three soldiers are accused of deliberately allowing three men detained ...

Once? Unlikely. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15571852)

I destroy all cookies whenever I close the browser (in Firefox, that's an automatic setting), so I'm not about to register each and every freaking time there's news.

Maybe someday I'll get BugMeNot, but honestly, I have a very low tolerance for saying "screw it" so I probably wouldn't even bother doing that.

Re:Only once? (1)

suyashs (645036) | more than 8 years ago | (#15566852)

The solution: Google Browser Sync Be sure to encrypt everything

Re:If only they'd drop the registration (1)

xstonedogx (814876) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565596)

Yeesh, you only gotta do it once. They don't even validate the email address. That's what cookies are for, lazypants. :P

Why should I have to do it at all? Do they want me to view their advertisements or don't they?

Re:If only they'd drop the registration (1)

drsquare (530038) | more than 8 years ago | (#15569636)

It's not just the hassle of registration (can take several minutes on some sites), or the feeling of futility at filling in completely fake details that are no use to anyone (so why do they ask?), it's the cost. I've seen the NY Times ask me for $4 to read a 500 word article. You could buy several newspapers for that.

Re:If only they'd drop the registration (1)

scarpa (105251) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565449)

Was there some special reason I was able to read the article without registering then?

Re:If only they'd drop the registration (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15565544)

You're a Moonie?

Re:If only they'd drop the registration (1)

shufler (262955) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565632)

I believe you're thinking of the Washington Times.

Re:If only they'd drop the registration (1)

groovy.ambuj (870307) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565668)

assuming you use firefox, not a bad assumption given that you read /. start using bugmenot extension. avoids all free compulsory registration nuisance on web.

Re:If only they'd drop the registration (4, Funny)

timeOday (582209) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565715)

"If only they'd drop the registration, I would start reading them."
Shouldn't you be posting that as an Anonymous Coward?

Re:If only they'd drop the registration (1)

Frozen Void (831218) | more than 8 years ago | (#15569152)

Believe it or not i created this slashdot accoutn just to have the article comments start at +3 for hassle of manually settings them each time to +3.

Re:If only they'd drop the registration (1)

BkBen7 (926853) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565721)

BugMeNot. [bugmenot.com] + Firefox. [getfirefox.com] = No Registration

Re:If only they'd drop the registration (2, Informative)

costlow (983658) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565892)

I hear the BugMeNot firefox extension [roachfiend.com] is helpful for reading articles.

Re:If only they'd drop the registration (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 8 years ago | (#15566674)

Same here.

I know there are going to be people crawling out of the woodwork to give how many seconds it takes to create a new registration for a particular site, but honestly I'm just not interested. I have to remember enough usernames and passwords as it is already, I don't need to remember another half dozen or two for my news sites.

Google News seems to be pretty good about finding stories from no-reg-required sites, and it's easy enough if you click a link and end up at a registration page just to back up one level and find the same story from a different news source.

I don't know what most of those sites use their "free registrations" for -- some sort of data collection that they can mine later, I assume -- but they're losing my readership because of it.

Before someone accuses me of having a "short attention span," let me just say that I have a perfectly fine attention span, when I'm reading what I want. I don't have the time or interest or inclination to look at somebody else's registration/login page, or interstital ads, or frankly any other content that I didn't choose specifically to view. If I can't get to the story I wanted to read on the first click in, then I'll just back up and read it somewhere else. News, as far as I'm concerned, is a fungible good. You can read the AP wire stories as easily on the West Bumfuck Herald's page as you can on the East Bend Times, and I'll get it from whoever puts the least obstacles in my way.

Re:If only they'd drop the registration (2, Interesting)

mbstone (457308) | more than 8 years ago | (#15566913)

A coupla years ago when I lived and worked in DC there was an ever-smiling WaPo employee named Sheldon. He used to stand in front of the Van Dorn metro station, rain or shine, probably still does, handing out the free dumbed-down weekly-reader edition of the WaPo. Now I would save trees and metro cleanup costs by reading the paper on my smartphone. I would tease Sheldon. "Sheldon, don't you want to know my date of birth?" He looked at me like I was crazy. "If I give you my email address, can I have a free paper?" He seemed hurt that I never took the free paper, and puzzled I would ask him such stupid questions.

Serious Conversation (4, Funny)

Kesch (943326) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565414)

'The news, as "lecture," is giving way to the news as a "conversation".

I suggest we discuss this new news paradigm.

News as entertainment (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565743)

With camera crews now able to broadcast live from anywhere on the planet, news has become the ultimate reality TV show. There's far less interest in capturing and analyzing real facts and far more on sound-bites, dramatic backdrops and other creative content to up viewership.

First Newspaper on the Web (1)

kenf (75431) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565419)

So, which was the first print newspaper to have a website? A dialup bulletin board type thing (digital ink) doesn't count.

Re:First Newspaper on the Web (1)

Flimzy (657419) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565447)

To simply have a web site? Or to offer actual content (i.e. news articles, classifieds, etc) via that web site?

Re:First Newspaper on the Web (2, Informative)

stebbivignir (644788) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565552)

The Icelandic morning newspaper, Morgunblaðið [www.mbl.is] started their online edition in 1995 i think.
Does anyone want to top that?

Re:First Newspaper on the Web (4, Informative)

prockcore (543967) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565825)

The Icelandic morning newspaper, Morgunblaðið started their online edition in 1995 i think.

The Arizona Daily Star [azstarnet.com] launched May 5th 1995.

Re:First Newspaper on the Web (1)

script_daddy (846338) | more than 8 years ago | (#15566156)

One of Norway's largest daily newspapers Dagbladet [dagbladet.no] was first published on the web, March 8th 1995, beaten only by two days to be the first Norwegian newspapers on the web. First out was the rather insignificant Bronnoysund Avis [ba-avis.no] . (A preemptive sorry to anyone from Bronnoysund reading this thinking I'm an insensitive clod!)

Re:First Newspaper on the Web (1)

AEton (654737) | more than 8 years ago | (#15569885)

MIT's The Tech [mit.edu] published its first issue online in May 1993. From the Web site of one person involved:

The early 90s saw a number of big changes at the paper that I was lucky to be involved in. We replaced the Atex editorial system and Compugraphic type setters with Macintoshes running Quark XPress and the Quark Publishing System. Josh Hartmann, Reuven Lerner, and I set up The Tech's first Web server using a 20-line Perl-based HTTP server written by Mitchell Charity. We published the first issue online in May 1993.

Re:First Newspaper on the Web (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15565615)

So, which was the first print newspaper to have a website?

You're opening a real can of worms there but I'll submit the UK's Daily Telegraph, which launched its online version, Electronic Telegraph (now telegraph.co.uk [telegraph.co.uk] ), in 1994. Their tenth anniversary homepage [telegraph.co.uk] (from 2004, natch) has more details. According to Wikipedia's article on Electronic Telegraph [wikipedia.org] , it launched on November 15th 1994 and was "Europe's first daily web-based newspaper".

Re:First Newspaper on the Web (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15567411)

The Irish Times (the paper of record in Ireland) launched on the web in 1994, I've been trying to find the exact date. It certainly was a pioneer online and was the first paper I can recall to start publishing the entire paper online.

http://www.ireland.com/about/ [ireland.com]

'Kaiser memo (3, Funny)

Kesch (943326) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565467)

For those who don't RTFA, you really should read the text of the 'Kaiser memo for a good chuckle.

"The Post is not in a pot of water, and we're smarter than the average frog, but we do find ourselves swimming in an electronic sea where we could eventually be devoured -- or ignored as an unnecessary anachronism. Our goal, obviously, is to avoid getting boiled as the electronic revolution continues."


Now, I think the fundamental problem with this metaphor is that frogs have no business swimming in the sea, electronic or otherwise. That should be left to select e-turtles.

Re:'Kaiser memo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15565577)

Or maybe Gators...well, I'm sure they swim in the electronic sea, anyway.

Re:'Kaiser memo (1)

EdwinBoyd (810701) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565614)

The metaphor refers to an old story about an odd behavior in frogs. If you attempt to place a frog in a pot of hot water it will try to escape, if you place that same frog in a pot of cool water and slowly heat it up to a boil, the frog will supposedly make no attempt to leave.

Not the first, not by a longshot (4, Interesting)

RobertB-DC (622190) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565469)

It was August 1992. There were no wireless laptops, no BlackBerries, no blogs, no rush to flip on cell phones as soon as your plane hit the runway. Yet, in his hand-written memo, sparked after attending an Apple-organized conference in Hakone, Japan, Kaiser took a peek into a crystal ball of technology and proposed that the company "design the world's first electronic newspaper."

1992? What a joke! The folks at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram [star-telegram.com] , with help from some local techies [radioshack.com] , produced "the world's first electronic newspaper" in 1982!

From the usual source [wikipedia.org] :
StarText was an online ASCII-based computer service that was officially launched on May 3, 1982 by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and the Tandy Corporation. Its name was derived from Star representing the newspaper which would provide the content and Text representing the computer company which would provide the technology.

StarText was marketed in the Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex newspaper circulation area of North Texas, USA. It quickly evolved into an electronic magazine written by unpaid journalists who had paid to be subscribers of the service. Its eventual demise came with the growth of the Internet. In May of 1996 an additional Internet service was offered and called StarText. Net with the original service being rebranded as StarText Classic. The original service finally closed down on March 3, 1997 and in June of 1998, StarText. Net morphed into Star-Telegram Online Services which in turn eventually became a conventional online Internet service of the Knight-Ridder group.

1992... we had y'all beat by ten years.

Re:Not the first, not by a longshot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15565578)

What they meant to say was that they were the first mainstream newspaper to jump on the bandwagon.

StarText.Net is now owned by a domain squater (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565788)

And unfortunatly StarText.Net is now owned by a domain squater.

Re:Not the first, not by a longshot (2, Funny)

opusman (33143) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565871)

1992? What a joke! The folks at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, with help from some local techies, produced "the world's first electronic newspaper" in 1982!

They can't have done. Al Gore hadn't invented the Internet by that stage.

Re:Not the first, not by a longshot (1)

UserGoogol (623581) | more than 8 years ago | (#15566577)

But it wasn't on the Web.

Re:Not the first, not by a longshot (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 8 years ago | (#15570042)

the Knight-Ridder group
Presumably with David Hasselhoff as the CEO.

Newspapers still trying to figure it out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15565492)

Since it's all about the advertising, you'd think the daily print media would have figured out the lucrative automotive want-ads by now.

Some "give away" online postings with the purchase of a listing in their papers, while others value their webpage sales over conventional.

The rise of wire services (4, Insightful)

NewsWatcher (450241) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565509)

The rise of the internet news over newspaper has meant far more than just a different format for the delivery of news. It has meant that far more than in the past news is being delivered by wire services like Reuters, AP, AFP etc. This is fine as far as it goes, but as wire services can deliver news cheaply to many different sites, it makes for some pretty uniform coverage of many events. Websites can't afford to send their own reporters, so are increasingly relying on the wires to do the leg work for them. Just take a look at Google News any day of the week to see how many of the stories are exactly the same. I love reading my favourite news online, but I rue the day that great newspapers become a conduit for delivering the wires withough delving into the investigative pieces that truly change society.

Man what (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15565576)

That has nothing to do with the rise of online. That was an unfortuante trend in media that was happening anyway. If you could compare articles from lots of big-city newspapers on any given day, you'd see the same phenomenon. The only thing the internet does is make it very easy to see how much the newspapers copy from wire services and one another at one single glance.

Re:Man what (2, Insightful)

NewsWatcher (450241) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565763)

As you may note from my nic, I am a more than casual consumer of the media. I have been working as a journalist for 11 years. I have worked for newspaper, wire services, websites and on radio. You are correct in saying there has been a general rise in the use of wires in news print as well. The difference is that so many internet sites want to have 24-hour coverage, which papers don't traditionally offer. The only way they can be expected to do this without costs blowing out is by utilising wire services. I think in part the rise in wire services in newspaper is because they have been putting so much of their resources into unprofitable websites that they have had to cut back on staff in the print editions. This is almost certainly the case in Australia, although I am not sure if the same has occurred in America.

I still subscribe to the paper version... (3, Interesting)

Omega (1602) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565593)

Not sure about everyone else, but I still subscribe to the paper New York Times. I read it on the way into work, I read it in the hammock in the back yard, I read it in Starbucks. Having the electronic version available is great if I want to copy or reference something on my computer, but as far as "getting" my news goes, its still the paper version for me.

Re:I still subscribe to the paper version... (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 8 years ago | (#15566767)

I used to subscribe to a paper (and before that, I bought it out of the machine where I used to live, almost every day), but now I just buy it irregularly on the weekends because I can't find the time to read it.

Compared to pulling open another window on my computer's screen and typing in a Web address, actually carrying around a paper and futzing around with flipping pages seems like a lot of work. I'm sure that sounds like the height of laziness (and I suppose I could easily imagine the reverse situation: someone who wasn't already sitting at a computer all day and instead was working at a conventional desk might find it rather obnoxious to have to go fire up a computer to get their news, versus having it delivered on paper every day), but it's the truth. I generally read my morning news at the same time as I'm checking my email in the morning, and for whatever reason (at least in my work environment), it's a whole lot more acceptable to read an online paper than it is to sit there and read a paper one.

The majority of the paper-news readers I know are mostly people who commute to work by train, and thus have a lot of non-internet-connected time to kill. But I don't think I'm very anomalous in getting most of my news while using a computer at work, and as long as my job requires that I be in front of a screen most of the time, news media that's presented there is always going to be more convenient than anything else.

Re:I still subscribe to the paper version... (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 8 years ago | (#15570130)

A paper newspaper has two clear advantages over its electronic rivals:- (1) it's much more effective as a spider-swatter, and (2) when you've finished reading it you can use it to wipe your arse.

Re:The rise of wire services (2, Insightful)

demachina (71715) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565748)

There is one overwhelming plus to internet news replacing newspapers. Manufacturing newsprint for newspapers is a single handed ecological disaster. Bowater, one of the biggest U.S. producers produced 2.7 million metric tons of newsprint in 2005. Trees the world over will breath a sigh of relief if the Internet replaces newspapers.

Now we just need to get rid of coal fired power plants to generate the electricity we need for our computers, and come up with readers that actually work as well as newspapers when you are on a subway commuting.

Re:The rise of wire services (1)

Peyna (14792) | more than 8 years ago | (#15566122)

If I could just subscribe to the coupons and not the rest of the paper, I'd be set. That's the only reason I buy the Sunday paper anymore. I read it all online before I buy it and take the coupons out.

Re:The rise of wire services (1)

demachina (71715) | more than 8 years ago | (#15566514)

Its not like you are paying for the coupons by buying the newspaper. The companies who make them should be delighted at the prospect of putting them online and making you use your expensive color printer ink to print them. They can easily rig and restrict them so you can't abuse them. They just overcharge the people without the coupons and make a slightly smaller profit on the people that do use them.

There must be some marketing rationale for coupons, but me personally I hate the whole idea, especially standing in line behind people who have a giant deck of them to waste time processing. People like you :) who are just using them to get discounts I'm not getting, because they were willing to dick with them and I'm not. Its not like the person in front of me is trying a product just because of the coupon, its just an enormously resource wasting way to make people think they are getting a bargain, well they are but it would be more efficient to just have reduced the price a few cents for everyone.

Re:The rise of wire services (1)

drsquare (530038) | more than 8 years ago | (#15569707)

Trees the world over will breath a sigh of relief if the Internet replaces newspapers.

Many newspapers are made with recycled paper.

and come up with readers that actually work as well as newspapers when you are on a subway commuting.

And also cheap enough so you can leave them around in public without worrying about them being stolen, like you can with a real paper.

Re:The rise of wire services (1)

MBCook (132727) | more than 8 years ago | (#15566079)

The wire services are a big part of what I see as the problem. I understand that not every paper can keep up with the NYT and such, but so many news casts and papers and sites are so close to straight wire service copies it's insane. It doesn't cost a fortune to send an article across the world. News papers could team up (like sister papers).

There are other things that drive me off. What I see as a very clear bias is one thing. This is both a political bias (most outlets are liberal to varying degrees, although many will argue that point) and a "sexiness" bias . Why report the 12 new schools build in Iraq or the new film clubs that weren't allowed under Saddam or whatever when you can report "Devastating news in Iraq as one soldier is killed." I see that as partly political, but everything is sensationalized. The economy is crumbling (it's not, it's doing great). One shark attack is a wave of terror that deserves 6 months of coverage. The way the war is covered you'd think it was Vietnam. In 'Nam 9 soldier died every day on average. In the Iraq war it is about 2, and if we only took the average for the last few months it would be lower. Our "atrocities" are reported constantly, the atrocities committed by our enemies are ignored or censored.

What would the modern media make of WW I or WW II? In WW I we lost about 300 men a day. In WW II we lost almost 2200 per day. With casualty rates like it's amazing wars ever happened. If modern America faced that kind of loss even in the face of such evil as Hitler and pre-war Japan, it's clear what our path would be.

To get back on point, newspapers and the media in general are in deep trouble and it isn't just "people don't like physical paper".

After all, when every news outlet reports the same story, why should I pay to read tomorrow what I can hear today on the news or read now on the web?

Hint: cutting back editorial staff and covering more national and international events is NOT a good idea.

Re:The rise of wire services (1)

UserGoogol (623581) | more than 8 years ago | (#15566660)

Reporting on good news is nothing more than glorified human interest bullshit. What's the point? All the viewer can do is just vaguely acknowledge it and move on. "Yeah, it sure is good that thing happened."

Furthermore, why the hell should a person care about local news? Given the choice between a story that effects a the entire world and a story which effects one percent of one percent of the world, I think it's obvious which story is more important.

Re:The rise of wire services (1)

MBCook (132727) | more than 8 years ago | (#15570075)

You don't have to spend 10 minutes on each new school built in Iraq, but you could actually point out that it happens. If you only got information about Iraq from news casts you'd think the entire country was a warzone covered in IED with people being killed everywhere and no improvements going on.

As for local news, I agree international news is important. My point was that making my local paper less local just gives me less reason to read it.

Re:The rise of wire services (1)

poot_rootbeer (188613) | more than 8 years ago | (#15569452)

far more than in the past news is being delivered by wire services like Reuters, AP, AFP etc.

I don't think this happened as recently as you think it has. Print newspapers have been relying on wire copy for a large amount of their content for a long time now, since well before the growth of the Internet. You didn't think your local small-city paper sent its own reporters to Washington D.C. or the Middle East, did you?

Article Text: Web Users Open the Gates (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15565512)

TEN INTERNET YEARS
Web Users Open the Gates

By Jay Rosen
Special to washingtonpost.com
Monday, June 19, 2006; 12:00 AM

A decade after major news providers such as The Washington Post began publishing on the Internet, they are finally beginning to ask the right questions about what the Web can do for them and their readers -- and to realize how disruptive web technology is to traditional journalism.

Big guns such as the Associated Press's chief executive, Tom Curley, have admitted that the industry seriously fumbled its new media strategy for years by opting to re-purpose material produced to serve print and broadcast audiences.

Only recently has it begun to respond to the decisive, Internet-driven shift in the "balance of power" between news providers and readers by striving to deliver news "on-demand" and by developing truly interactive reports, Curley told the Online News Association in 2004.

"When the Web was born as a commercial content enterprise back in the mid-'90s, we thought it was about replicating -- that is, 'repurposing' -- our news and information franchises online," Curley said. "The news, as 'lecture,' is giving way to the news as a 'conversation'."

The earlier idea of re-purposing content was not innovative, but it was rational and cost-effective. The Web is flexible. It can "kinda/sorta" replicate an older format, if that's the goal. It's useful as a cheap, fast mass delivery system. "Trusted brands," the thinking went, could establish trusted sites, and transfer their reputations to the new medium.

Newspaper, radio, television ... Web! It made sense at the time. But in the 10 years following the birth of washingtonpost.com, the Net and its publishing platform, the World Wide Web, have proved harder to master, scarier to get wrong and more thrilling to get right than expected. Wilder, and discontinuous with the past in a way those coming out of traditional journalism never could have imagined.

Simple example: The Net radically shifts principles of news distribution as all sites become equidistant from the reader.

In 2003, I tracked Arnold Schwarzenneger's gubernatorial campaign by reading California Insider by Dan Weintraub because the Sacramento Bee political columnist seemed more clued-in to the race than top national reporters. That I could choose his coverage (and links) over the Washington Post's demonstrates the "unbundling" effect of the Internet.

Containers in which news had been packaged broke apart because the Internet could deliver content without the wrapping. I had no use for the Sacramento Bee, just Weintraub. The technology increased his influence, his "brand," while subtly diminishing the Bee's.

The disintegration of news containers unsettled a business that had coped with the introduction of radio and television. Executives were forced to redraw their value chains. Curley, for example, suggested that "legacy technology, silo-ed bureaucracies and entrenched workflows" at American newsrooms had prevented creative responses to the Web. True. Yet the disruptions happened anyway. Here are some that stand out for me:

The "closed" system of gates and gatekeepers has been busted open. What's the most amazing thing about the new media world? Its low barriers to entry. Thanks to the Internet, it is cheap and simple to launch a site that, theoretically, the whole world could be watching.

Yesterday there were a few dozen providers; today news, views and attitudes stream through millions of gates. And the Web accepts all kinds of gatekeepers, each with unique rules for what matters, rather than the rules adopted by a class of professionals with set journalistic principles. For the old gatekeepers that's a big disruption. The charges made against Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, claiming that his medals were undeserved, could have been held out of circulation by newsroom gatekeepers, pre-Internet. By 2004, it was impossible to keep such a story quiet, and editors knew it.

The new balance of power between producers and consumers. Curley described this change to the Online News Association on Nov. 12, 2004. When it came to consuming media, the Web allows users to decide "what application, what device, what time, what place." Curley described a decisive shift in whose clock the news runs on, away from an "appointment-driven" model. Producers had to adjust.

The basic idea of what defines a news "consumer" morphs when consumers gain access to producers' tools, and can float between being a reader and an editor. In a speech to BBC staff on April 25, 2006, the network's director-general, Mark Thompson, said users with expanded choices demand more from big brands. New media, he said, "empowers those audiences, transfers control from us to them, lets them consume what they want, when they want, lets them create content, lets them participate."

It's a long way from "Excuse us, just re-purposing," to, "Oh my God, there's been a power shift." But since 2004, mainstream providers have shown signs of learning to swing with the Web. They supported blogs. They encouraged interactivity. They began to re-draw their picture of their audience.

'Newspaper, radio, television...Web!' was a wrong turn down a one way street. Uh, oh, power shift. In October of 2005, Andrew Heyward, the president of CBS News, said the era of omniscience in network news had ended. His insight: You could improve viewer trust by denying full knowledge. Disruption! (By the way Heyward said it at my blog, PressThink.)

Sources have more power to sidestep journalists. What goes for consumers goes for sources. Because sources can be publishers too, there's a new balance of power between them and reporters, who once gave those sources a voice in the press. For example, the Dallas Mavericks' owner and a tech entrepreneur, Mark Cuban, has little use for beat writers assigned to cover his team. Instead, with Blog Maverick, he speaks to hardcore fans and addresses controversies directly. Reporters read his blog concurrently with the fans, who once relied on the sports section for inside information.

The Net exploded the universe in press criticism. A decade ago, six letters and two phone calls from readers in response to a three-part series that took months to report was considered "good" feedback. Today, a big story commonly brings in 500 to 1,000 e-mails. It's not just the volume, but who is speaking up. Today there is much more criticism of the press from outside the club of mainstream journalists. This changes the kind of explanations that will wash in forums like the Washington Post's live online discussions with reporters, where -- under tightly controlled conditions -- journalists reply to skeptical users.

Heavy consumers of online journalism also effectively fact-check, cry foul and push back with weblogs and other tools. That's an environment of critical scrutiny unknown to most journalists pre-1996. Of all things bloggers have tried to do, their criticism of the news media has probably made the biggest difference in the business.

The Net has exposed group think in journalism. The strongest motivation I had in starting PressThink (my one-person magazine of press criticism) was to circumvent the gatekeepers in the national discussion. I was tired of passing my ideas through editors who forced me to observe the silences they kept as professional journalists.

The day after President Bush was re-elected in 2004, I suggested on my blog that at least some news organizations should consider themselves the opposition to the White House. Only by going into opposition, I argued, could the press really tell the story of the Bush administration's vast expansion of executive power.

That notion simply hadn't been discussed in mainstream newsrooms, which had always been able to limit debate about what is and isn't the job of the journalist. But now that amateurs had joined pros in the press zone, newsrooms couldn't afford not to debate their practices. This is disruptive because if the unthinkable cannot be ignored, professional correctness loses its power.

A Pulitzer-prize winning media columnist at the Los Angeles Times, David Shaw, denounced my suggestion after reading about it at Romenesko, an online gathering spot for journalists. He quoted CNN staffers as saying what a terrible idea opposition press would be. Are you nuts? It would instantly destroy our credibility!

But my question was: Why has no major news organization tried to build up credibility as the oppositional (but relentlessly factual) network the way Fox News built credibility as a Bush-friendly channel, which capably won the ratings for its coverage of the 2004 Republic National Convention? After all, the target audience -- cable watchers from "blue"America -- comprised at least 40 percent of the overall market, plus anyone from the right who would tune in for the outrage factor. Prior to the Internet, the idea that an opposition press could have value would simply have been ignored.

Disrupting the legacy media's overconfidence. How crazy is it to think a third-place cable news channel might see the logic of developing an oppositional, adversarial -- even liberal -- voice? It isn't improbable in the big picture, but finding support for such programming is deemed impossible by those in the TV news club. Some call it the "legacy" effect. When mainstream journalists, trying to maintain consensus ideas that justify their work and form bases for their professional identities, misunderstand the environment created by the Internet, bad decision-making and dumb statements follow.

In 2004, Dan Rather and his team at "60 Minutes," along with the CBS executives, misrecognized what was happening to their story about President Bush's National Guard service. They made a lot of dumb statements. They were over-confident in their understanding of the new medium. To them, it was impossible that amateurs on the Net could apply factual tests more strenuous than those their staff had conducted. The higher-ups assessed inaccurately who was reading certain bloggers' assaults on the network's story. Correspondents for the national newspapers monitored the blogs, picked out tidbits and developed them into stories, raising questions CBS could no longer ignore, even though it had tried to ignore the bloggers.

In that episode and others, the combined effect of amateurs and news professionals proved decisive. In the fall of Republican Senate leader Trent Lott (December, 2002) the press reported Lott's comments praising Strom Thurmond's 1948 campaign, but failed to weight them adequately. The bloggers corrected for that, and added substantial background information. The freewheeling discussion proved that distress over Lott's comments came from both sides of the aisle. Within days, the national press picked the story back up and within two weeks, Lott was gone. That's accountability journalism gone pro-am, and it shows how the great disruption may yield solid improvements.

Another example: On the day the Indian Ocean tsunami struck, Reuters had 2,300 journalists and 1,000 stringers positioned around the world, according to the firm's chief executive, Tom Glocer. But none of them were on the beaches to witness the disaster, he told the Online Publishing Association.

The amateurs were there and they were prepared. "So for the first 24 hours the best and the only photos and video came from tourists armed with 1.3 megapixel portable telephones, digital cameras and camcorders. And if you didn't have those pictures you weren't on the story," Glocer said. Reuters, a wire service, had to recognize there are more people in the press zone now -- and integrate their material into its report. That should make us better, he said, but "you have to be open to both amateur and professional to tell the story completely."

Exactly: To survive you have to be open. That's where disruption in the news business looks a lot like renewal.

Jay Rosen teaches journalism at New York University and is the author of the blog PressThink.

Next gen newspaper (1, Interesting)

planckscale (579258) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565556)

I'd like to see the electronic newspaper that people read in the Minority Report. You know, headlines appear on the front page as they happen. Advertisements are geared towards your interests, flashes and bulletins interrupt your reading and it's all done wirelessly. Who says you have to have an input device to read articles on the net?

Re:Next gen newspaper (1)

w9ofa (68126) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565711)

That sounds like the most annoying news-reading experience I can conjure in my imagination.

Minority Report annoyed me because it reminded me how annoying the future is going to be.

Re:Next gen newspaper (1)

OldeTimeGeek (725417) | more than 8 years ago | (#15569440)

Wonderful, the future will be a continual CNN Headline News - no background information, no context, nothing that would illuminate the "whys" - just "what's happening now".

That's entertainment, not news.

Wapo is pretty good (4, Interesting)

esconsult1 (203878) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565565)

As a New Yorker, I started out reading mostly the New York Times. However Wapo has consistently led in innovations in the industry. Coupled with their world class journalism, blogs, all kinds of reader feedback, and most importantly -- leaving the content free, has let me to turn to them as must read on my long list of news sources each morning.

The NY Times has walled off their editorial and I have seen my interest in the paper slowly wane.

Happy 10 years Wapo!

Re:Wapo is pretty good (5, Interesting)

maelstrom (638) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565624)

Yeah, the NYTimes started losing me when they walled off their editorial section. After awhile I didn't miss it at all, in the age of the blogger who is really going to pay for yet more random pontification from a supposed 'expert'?

Re:Wapo is pretty good (1)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565803)

Yeah, who needs to know what people in positions of power are thinking when we can find out most 16 year olds don't like Bush?

Re:Wapo is pretty good (1)

WilliamSChips (793741) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565864)

Because people in positions of power blog too. Quite a few Democratic House members blog on Daily Kos, for example. You're talking about the average blogger. The New York Times isn't competing with the average blogger, the only one competing with the average blogger is the average blogger. The NYT is competing with the likes of Paul Graham. And the likes of Paul Graham will eventually win.

Re:Wapo is pretty good (1)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565974)

But Congressional Democrats have no power :P

I see where you're coming from, but there's still time while blogs settle from the undifferentiated mass of crap into something decent. For now, I see very little to get from them outside of the pleasures of a feedback loop.

I hate feedback loops.

Re:Wapo is pretty good (1)

WilliamSChips (793741) | more than 8 years ago | (#15566182)

True, but Republicans blog too, I just don't know where because I don't pay attention to that type of stuff. I picked the Kos because I remember some reference to a local House member's blog posts there(mentioning him as one in many) in a newspaper article unrelated to blogging.

Re:Wapo is pretty good (1)

maelstrom (638) | more than 8 years ago | (#15566035)

Most of the people writing editorials in the NYTimes have no special qualifications. Yes, it takes more time and more thought to find voices on blogs that you can trust, but ultimately if you are deciding that the editors of the NY Times are better just because they were hired by the NY Times you probably have bigger problems.

Re:Wapo is pretty good (2, Interesting)

anaesthetica (596507) | more than 8 years ago | (#15566228)

who is really going to pay for yet more random pontification from a supposed 'expert'?

It's not really the expertise of the op-ed columnist per se. The columnists serve, more often than you'd think, as a kind of conduit for ex-big shots, real experts, and government insiders who want to leak their analyses. The op-ed columnist gets to pass it off as their own insight, and it end up a win-win situation for the both.

Re:Wapo is pretty good (2, Interesting)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565912)

<rant>

I just cancelled my print subscription recently.

I found that their printing of unconfirmed rumors regarding Haditha, for which investigations are still ongoing, on the front page above the fold on 26May to be reprehensible yellow journalism.

To be sure, the issue is grave, and bears full disclosure, without coverups.

The US armed forces deserve to be both accountable, and innocent until proven guilty.

WaPo's wet-blanket read on the subsequent snuffing of Al-Zarqawi was the proverbial straw.

These WaPo Foreign Desk invdividuals should be given a broom and ordered to do something useful, in my opinion.

The First Ammendment is a beautiful thing on all sides, and I thank /. for an opportunity to give the WaPo some feedback on how dimly perceived their marginal, erroneous opinions are.

</rant>

Re:Wapo is pretty good (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565956)

And, in fairness, the rest of the paper besides the Foreign Desk's input is quite a good product.

Wapo is fishwrap (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15567904)

doesn't matter if it's printed or electronic - fishwrap is still fishwrap

and smells just the same - liberal pap... btw, to wapo: i'm the 80-year-old Afghan woman from zipcode 20593...

Don't celebrate the death of the MSM (2, Interesting)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565570)

The alternative [tcsdaily.com] is even worse, and it ain't bloggers.

Nothing more the a Republican Barometer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15565579)

The way I see it, it's not about the technology, it's about the content. As long as the Washington Post refuses to take a stand against the outrageous claims of the Bush administration (in the name of "civility"), they will only have value to me as a barometer of what the Republicans have their followers believing.

This just in: according to themselves... (1)

Multivitavim (957111) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565607)

... there've been some rough spots, but overall they've done a good job.

best quote from the article (5, Funny)

RobertLTux (260313) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565611)

"We learned a major lesson -- neither your server nor your vendor should be so far away that you can't kick them."

News as 'conversation'? (2, Interesting)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565685)

But that's exactly what's wrong with so many news-ish web sites. I don't want to have to wade through an unqualified conversation about facts and events, I simply want the facts. At least on slashdot there is a moderation system, and a pretty good understanding of the prevailing local culture - that means that when I want a "conversation" about the news, I can come and get one. Or go elsewhere. For a hoot, I could go to Drudge as a springboard to all sorts of spun conversations.

But a first rate "news" source (like the front page of the WP) shouldn't require me to wonder who is conversing with whom, that particular day. The Washington Post is my "local" paper, here in suburban Maryland. My gut sense, having read the paper for over 30 years, is that the web-based conversation they are now hosting has been eroding their editorial spine. Ironically, I've traditionally disliked their editorial positions - but they were consistent, and I had a sense of how that was going to shape their coverage decisions. Now, they seem to be thrashing around quite a bit.

My own paradigm shift (3, Interesting)

bfwebster (90513) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565701)

I lived in Washington DC from July 1996 to August 1998, then from December 1999 to August 2005--a total of about seven years. During all that time, I subscribed to both the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal; both would come every morning by 6 am, and I would eat breakfast standing up and going through both papers pretty thoroughly--paging through every section, scanning headlines, reading articles that interested me. I did this in spite of reviewing an increasing number of on-line news sites and blogs each day.

I moved to Parker, Colorado, in August 2005. Parker is about 25 miles from downtown Denver. My WSJ delivery shifted from early morning to coming in the mail--which meant that I got each day's edition in the afternoon, if I got it at all (sometimes it wouldn't come until the next day). I didn't even try to get the WP; instead, I signed up for a 'weekend' subscription to the Rocky Mountain News (largely for movie listings). And when my WSJ subscription came up for renewal, I let it lapse for this simple reason: by the time the WSJ came and I had a chance to read it, I had already been exposed to most of the news stories that interested me via the web.

I now have in my bookmarks roughly 140 news, information, commentary and blog sites, all of which I review at least once a day, and about 25% of which I review multiple times a day. I miss having the Post and the WSJ at my door before 6 am each morning; navigating their web sites is not as easy as reading the newspaper, and could I get them here that early, I would still subscribe to both, even at the combined rate of $200-300/year. But getting the WSJ in mid-afternoon just isn't worth it, and the Post would be even more delayed. So after a lifetime of reading newspapers (I'm 53), I've largely given up on them. ..bruce..

Re:My own paradigm shift (4, Funny)

.com b4 .storm (581701) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565790)

I now have in my bookmarks roughly 140 news, information, commentary and blog sites, all of which I review at least once a day

Congratulations! You officially have no life! :)

Re:My own paradigm shift (1)

bfwebster (90513) | more than 8 years ago | (#15566644)

I now have in my bookmarks roughly 140 news, information, commentary and blog sites, all of which I review at least once a day
Congratulations! You officially have no life! :)
Well, yeah, my friends and relatives have known that for years. :-) ..bruce..

Holy macaroni! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15565945)

Bruce,

You need to get a grip on life. Reading news day in and day out will certainly keep you up-to-date, but life wasn't meant to be spent like that. Get a girlfriend or join a club. It's definitely not healthy to spend this much time living in the past, when you should live in the present.

Join life!

Re:Holy macaroni! (1)

Ninjaesque One (902204) | more than 8 years ago | (#15566862)

On the other hand, what mass of hedonism spends his life, day in and day out, getting girlfriends and joining clubs? I wish to inquire as to your newsreadership.

Re:My own paradigm shift (1)

dalutong (260603) | more than 8 years ago | (#15567852)

I can feel your pain. I currently live in Silver Spring. I get the NY Times every morning and pick up the WSJ and WP from time to time when I come across it. I prefer reading the newspaper to trying to figure out what to bother to read on the websites. This is especially true because the websites will be updated frequently and I find myself reading an article that isn't really worth the little bit of update it provides. I do enjoy some specific blogs and alternative news sites. I try to discipline myself to only check them once a day, though.

I do recommend going to nytimes.com and getting a TimesSelect account. You can click "Today's Paper" at the top of the nytimes frontpage. When I am traveling I use that to help navigate the online news mess.

What a piece of self-congratulatory hooey. (2, Funny)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565705)

Reminds me of a minister leading off a church newsletter by saying "Some feel that the church is old-fashioned in today's modern fast-paced world, but starting next month we are going to make use of contemporary technology to spread the Good News and help parishioners stay in touch. Yes, we are going to put a up what is known as 'web site' on the international communications system known as the Internat. Any one with a 'modem' will be able to 'download' our newsletters. It is not so different from the letters Paul used to communicate with the early churches, but instead of ink and paper we will use electrons moving at the speed of light."

Writing Their Own Obituary (0)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565810)

Lots of people are dropping static newspapers in favor of Web editions, even of the same content, because then they can google what they see in the news. The Washington Post, along with the New York Times and most every other news outlet, has accelerated that move by publishing more and more material that depends on reader fact checking and cross reference.

The Post website is sad. (4, Interesting)

massysett (910130) | more than 8 years ago | (#15565929)

The Washington Post is an excellent newspaper with an outstanding editorial staff. It's a shame that their website wastes the paper's editorial resources.

Start with the home page. It's impossible to scan the thing. There are a few big stories at the top of the page, and then the bottom of the page falls into a huge morass of links arranged in multiple columns. The eye gets lost in this junkpile, and the little five-word headlines generally provide no context for the stories. Why don't these guys look at online-only news sites, like CNET News.com or Yahoo News? They're much better organized and easier to scan for interesting news.

Bad layout isn't all that's bad about the website though. Take the ads for example. You'd think that with the registration data they demand from users, they could serve targeted, useful ads. Nope--instead I always get the same ads for mortgage refinancing--how useful for an apartment dweller. Or you'd think that they could use the content of the news stories to serve up targeted ads--wouldn't advertisers pay a lot for that? If I'm reading, say, a story about computers, serve up computer ads; or if I'm reading Steve Barr's "Federal Diary" column, serve up ads for federal employees' health insurance? Hasn't the Post learned anything from Google? Nope--it's always the mortgage refinancing ads. And these guys wonder why they're not making any money on the Web?

Useless ads wouldn't be so bad if they weren't so irritating. All the Post's pages are littered with ads. They figure that annoying pop-ups aren't enough, so recently they started these irritating Flash ads that creep out, seizing a third of your browser window before receding. Are they trying to make it annoying? Is that what they've learned from powerhouse ad sellers like Google--annoying ads work? Did they really make that much money selling X10 camera ads?

I look at the Post website because they still have the best local DC coverage. I avoid the Post website for anything else--sure, the Post covers the White House the best, but the AP does almost as good a job and I can get their stuff on the annoyance-free Yahoo News. The Post is intent on annoying its users with cluttered pages and as long as that's the case, craigslist and Google will eat them alive in the online world.

Page 1 of 3 - Yes, that's what your readers want. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15569113)

Having to page through a short web article *like TFA* shows that the authors do not actually care about making what they write easy to read and put their advertisers' desires above their readers' needs.

Once I see that, I'll ignore anything else they have to say about how great they are.

mi8us 2, Troll) (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15566168)

About ou7side [goat.cx]

YUO FAIL IT3. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15566775)

distri3ut1ons

Words to live by (1)

DocTBone (653871) | more than 8 years ago | (#15568733)

"We had an Internet bottleneck and the servers couldn't handle the traffic," said Mark Stencel, who went on to run the site's political coverage through the 2000 election. "We learned a major lesson -- neither your server nor your vendor should be so far away that you can't kick them."

Data retention (1)

zornorph (63846) | more than 8 years ago | (#15569244)

There are lots of news sites on the web now, but the one thing that is a big problem for me is how long they retain these news stories. It seems that many 'news' sites (and many bloggers) don't care about archiving their information, and after a few days the story is gone. If I want to find old news stories, I would probably have better luck going to a library and using a *gasp* microfiche.
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