While reading Mattias’ latest post Print news still dominates – or does it? I wondered how newspapers manage to work the web efficiently and to create a website holding the readers and even attracting new ones. So that they are not forced to shut down as for example News of the World whilst the trend goes towards reading news online.
To me this seems very challenging, because the online appearance differs clearly from the printed news. Should sidelong articles also be published on a newspaper website? Personally I prefer short, explicit and straight to the point information rather than scanning through 3000 symbols glowing on the screen.
Andy Rutledge, designer and author of Design Professionalism, criticizes the general online design and appearance of newspapers. He argues that responsibility has been displaced by reader opinions and ethical standards have been exchanged for misdirection. In his opinion most newspaper websites are overloaded and slay down the users with “pink noise” – an unusable mixture of advertisement, apps and articles pressed into the screen under the motto – as much as possible. Presenting the online format in the same way as the printed version displays the greatest mistake by newspaper organizations.
Find the difference
Using the New York Times as an example for “terribly-designed” news Rutledge suggests various thoughtful alternatives to improve the usability of the website. Since Rutledge misses the content which doesn’t shine through the “pink noise”, he proposes striking headlines providing the possibility to logically scan through them. Too much distraction by ads and different navigation methods cause confusion. The reader should be able to easily choose a topic of interest. Among other proposals, Rutledge requests radically to abandon social media tools, which turn to unprofessionalism.
That’s a tough one – what do others think about this argument? Especially in times of Web 2.0 this must offend many bloggers. Thinking about the last mentioned statement, leads to another interesting site of newspaper’s online presence: the influence of social media.
Click the “Like” Button or not?
Matthew Ingram for instance completely disagrees with Rutledge regarding the role of social media. People like to share their thoughts and interests. Why don’t use Twitter or Facebook and others platforms to do so? While Rutledge argues “News is not social media. If it is, it fails to be news”, Ingram points out that social media supports the connection between readers and to use them even as news filters for individual interest. Since there is usually not such a person who is interested in everything that a newspaper produces these kind of social media tools help to scan for the specific facts.
Hence we see the clash between delivering clear facts (Rutledge) and the amelioration of those via real-time and personal social media platforms (Ingram).
What do you think about the role of the news nowadays? Should they only deliver the “dry” facts about something and do “comments” and “like” buttons falsify the information?