June 4th, 2008

What Newspapers Still Don’t Understand About The Web

by

Why is Google making more money everyday while newspapers are making less? I’m going to pick on The Washington Post again only because it’s my local paper and this is a local example.

There were severe storms in the Washington area today, and the power went out in our Reston office. I wanted to find some information about the status of power outages to see whether we should go into the office tomorrow. Here’s what I found on the homepage of WashingtonPost.com:

Washington Post Not Local

This is the WASHINGTON Post, right? So where’s the news about Washington? We just got pounded by a nasty storm — but it’s not homepage worthy.

Fortunately, although it’s not top of mind for the homepage editors, it is top of mind for readers — I found the article about the storm in the list of most viewed articles in the far corner of the homepage. I go to the article, where I find highly useful information like this:

“We have a ton of trees down, a ton of traffic lights out,” said Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Kraig Troxell.

Great, that’s very helpful.

So what’s my next step, when I can’t find what I want on the web? Of course:

Power Outages Northern Virginia

Thanks, Google, just what I was looking for:

Virginia Power Outages

Wow, I thought — it can’t be that bad, can it? So I went back to the WashingtonPost.com homepage. This time, I clicked on the Metro section in the main navigation. Sure enough, the storm was the lead story.

Washington Post Metro Section

And there at the top was the link to the same useless article. But then below the photo was this tiny link: Capital Weather Gang Blog: Storm Updates

I clicked on the link, and wow:

Capital Weather Gang

Real-time radar, frequent storm warning updates with LINKS, and… a link to that page I had been SEARCHING for on Dominion Power about outages. (Note the link to the useless news story buried at the bottom.)

Capital Weather Gang Example

It was a brilliant web-native news and information effort — BURIED three layers deep, where I couldn’t FIND it.

Is it any wonder why Google makes $20 billion on search?

And what’s the root cause problem? The useless article with no real-time data and no links was written for the PRINT newspaper. And the homepage is edited to match what will be important in the PRINT newspaper. And the navigation assumes I think like I do when I’m reading the PRINT newspaper. Want local news? Go to the metro SECTION.

The Capital Weather Gang blog is a great example of “getting” the web — but then making it impossible to find…

Oh, and if you click on the tiny Weather link on the homepage (which I only noticed on my fourth visit), you get a page that looks like the weather page in, you guessed it, the print newspaper — all STATIC.

Again, it takes another click to get to the dynamic, web-native weather blog.

Yesterday, I saw a ranking of the top 25 “newspaper websites” — and that’s exactly the problem, isn’t it? These are newsPAPER websites, instead of WEBsites.

WashingtonPost.com ranks #5, with this comment:

The figures from the WPO 10-Q indicate that revenue for the company’s online business is relatively small and represents only a modest part of the sales for the newspaper group. That is unfortunate. If any company should be right behind The New York Times in internet revenue it is the Post.

So much potential, like the hugely innovative weather blog, crushed by the weight of tradition. And it’s not just the Post, of course (not to unfairly pick on them) — it’s every print publisher boxed in by the legacy business.

Here’s an idea for newspaper website homepages — just a search box and a list of blogs. Seriously. Instead of putting all the web-native content and publishing in the blog ghetto, like NYTimes.com does, why not make that the WHOLE site? (I mean seriously, having a blog section on the website is like having a section in the paper for 14 column inch stories.)

It’s like newspapers on the web as saying: here’s all the static stuff we produced for the paper — you want all of our dynamic web innovation? Oh, that’s downstairs, in the back room. Knock twice before you enter.

It’s a shame — so much marginalized value.

I bet I could stop going to the New York Times site entirely and just subscribe to all of their blog RSS feeds, and still get all the news, but in a web-native format, with data and LINKS.

Of course, the only way to do that is click on 50 RSS buttons one at a time. And they only publish partial feeds.

Sigh.

UPDATE:

Mark Potts had a similar frustration with the storm coverage — and it looks like he never even found the weather blog.

Another big missed opportunity — the Dominion electric site can’t tell me specifically if the power is still out in our office in Reston. But I bet Washington Post readers with offices in that area – or even in our office condo — could help me out, if someone gave them a place to do so. The Post weather blog has a ton of comments, but information is haphazard — how about a structured data form where you can post your power outage status, maybe map it on Google maps?

Lastly, at least Google knows how to make the Post’s weather blog findable:

Reston Power Outage

UPDATE #2:

Jonathan Krim, the local editor from WashingtonPost.com, offers an important clarification:

As the editor for local coverage, I appreciate the comments on our coverage yesterday. But I am compelled to point out:

The page Scott uses for his example is not our home page for local users. We have one for our very large non-local audience, which is what you display in your blog post. You can change your settings, making the Washington home page your default, by clicking at the very top of the page. Had you looked at our local home page, you would have had a different experience, with very prominent display links to our capital weather gang coverage.

My response:

Jonathan,

Thanks for the comment. I had already heard that others who were logged in had a different experience. Perhaps the lesson then is about assumptions around user registration and login. I’m a dedicated reader of WashingtonPost.com, but I never login. It may be necessary to supplement the customization for logged in users with geo-targeting based on IP address, which isn’t perfect, but it might have worked for me yesterday.

I also think you should integrate the Capital Weather Gang blog into the main weather page, instead requiring another click to get to it.

I think the main lesson is the tremendous pressure that Google puts on every site to make the user experience perfect. You had the data and coverage I wanted. You had the customization for local users. But somehow I still missed it and went to Google instead.

UPDATE #3:

Several people have commented that my not finding out about the Post’s local customization for logged in users, either from the Post directly or through another source, means I didn’t have all the facts. In one sense, that’s true, but the example here is not about WashingtonPost.com as an object in a vacuum with a certain feature set, or what the WashingtonPost.com thinks about how their site works, but about MY EXPERIENCE using the site. My experience was lacking, and therefore I concluded that it would be lacking for other users like me. Some people might have clicked on the Weather link, or gone straight to the Metro section, or were logged in. But my experience represents this is not true for all users.

And the point of this post is not about the extent of WashingtonPost.com’s shortcomings, which may not be that significant, i.e. they are easily correct, but about the demands of the web as dictated by the existence of Google. Google is obsessed with not letting any users fall through the cracks. Despite having customization for local users and the right content, I still fell through the cracks as a user of WashingtonPost.com. And that is the key fact of this post.

That’s the brutal reality of the web that we all live by. We can have all these features and content and design and intent, but the user experience is the only arbiter. Google understands this better than newspapers. If newspapers understood it better, their sites would get better, which would create more economic value for them on the web.

Comments (110 Responses so far)

  1. I visit the WP web site a fair bit, and I am interested in weather updates, but I’ve never stumbled across this Capital Weather Gang gem. Hmmm. Hey, try searching their site for the term “weather” and you’ll *not* see this weather gang blog.

    But, there is still a ton of real-time information that is not even on Google. A local government alert e-mail that was forwarded to me via a neighborhood listserve had an up-to-date list of Montgomery County (MD) intersections that were closed — a resource that I did not know existed (and one that had no advertising associated with it … perhaps a business opportunity:)

  2. Great article. They could hire 2-4 people to manage site and give a shit about the local news and what is going on.

    Not even that hard to do, just need to try something and do it.

  3. I completely disagree. How can you compare one newspaper site to the whole of the internet. Surely the result gotta be: One website won’t give you as much as _all_ the rest.

    And: Someone gotta produce the content. And the washington post is writing summaries for you to be up to date. It’s not their aim to provide realtime data. Why could start that but they’ll need further resources for that. And they’ve already got some type of content they are delivering.

    And for anyone not living in washington the article by the washington post is much more the article I want to read. I’m not interested to read something that was about to happen the day after the day before yesterday. And I don’t want to interpret a poweroutage map but just get a summary of the consequence plus some background on who’s fault it is, whether it might happen again, what got lost. …

  4. please do a followup of the newspaper’s comments to this, ok … and if they don’t see it, send it to them, and then call … that would be a useful thing to do for the whole region, this is a good story in itself

    thanks for your time, gregory

  5. I find the similar problems with major networks trying to stream their TV shows online. Each has their own media players, some (like ABC) requiring a download. Most still try to do “commercials” the old fashioned way, which means I get to read through my RSS feed, while they blare meaningless 90s-esk ads at me.

    You have great analysis/screencaps. Word on the street, from all the mass layoffs, is that newspapers aren’t doing well, but I wish they’d just read your post and invest in revamping their site to become more relevant.

    Thanks for sharing! :)
    Jany

  6. People use Washington Post and Google for different purpose. People go to newspaper site to get updated on the list of current news. People go to Google to search for one news that he is interested in.

  7. If you want to see what a news website should look like, go to http://www.nu.nl. It is in Dutch, but you’ll get the idea i’m sure. Clean simple layout with news, nothing but news. And the number one news website in The Netherlands, far ahead of the number one newsPAPER website which look like this: http://www.telegraaf.nl.

  8. ugh, these images you embedded into your article are terrible…makes your blog unreadable…meh

  9. A very good analysis of a real world problem. I’d love to see a full technical and usability breakdown of the top international news vs. newspaper websites. Are sites such as http://english.ohmynews.com providing a better experience and more relevant than equivalent sites published by the old media?

  10. This fact reechoes to what Nielsen, as reported by BBC, had said that people would be more and more dependent on search engines in the future.

  11. I noticed the same front page when I visited the Post yesterday evening (once our power returned) and I told my husband I couldn’t believe they didn’t have a big article on the storms. He insisted HE could see it, and sure enough his view of the Post had a big photo and headlines. Turns out he was logged in and I was not. Perhaps the view is tied to the user’s location, and if it’s an anonymous viewer the site assumes it is not a local person?

  12. Here’s a problem for news web sites though — most people aren’t going to go to the Washington Post first, like you did … they’ll just go straight to Google.

    FWIW: Here’s a nice weather blog that one of our editors runs.

  13. “And for anyone not living in washington the article by the washington post is much more the article I want to read.”

    This gets at another wrinkle of the problem. You have a select few papers that want their content (both print and digital) to serve a national audience. So they eschew local coverage in favor of national interest pieces.

    In this case, the power outages were no doubt the big issue for Washington residents. But the website had to have the obligatory article about Obama and Clinton front and center, just in case some yo-yo had missed that development.

  14. Newspaper Web Developer

    The print copy of the Post that comes to your door in the morning is targeted to your area. People in New Mexico that get the Post get a different version than people local to DC. That’s because they know who you are and where you’re coming from *reliably*.

    They could guess where you are, but they could be wrong and then deliver you a customized homepage that actually confused you more that you are right now.

    So… lesson of the day. Do some research before you explain away an entire industry dying. Maybe you should should retitle the article “What I still don’t understand about the Web” and just leave the newspapers out of it. Moron.

  15. Excellent analysis of the structure of online new websites. You may be interested in my recent analysis of the online news experience, where I focus on the interaction and customization of the news experience on the most popular of online news websites: http://tpgblog.com/2008/03/10/the-top-online-news-experience-is/

    Jeremy Horn
    The Product Guy
    http://tpgblog.com

  16. I think this problem is due to the inherent nature of newspapers. When I look at traditional local media, newspapers are preparing coverage for the next print edition, TV stations are more attuned to ‘current’ coverage. As such, when I am looking online for the latest local information (usually weather coverage like you) I go to the TV station websites and find they are more up to date than the local newspaper site.

  17. While I agree that the information should have been easier to find I’m not sure this was a fair test. You browsed on washpost and searched on Google. If I SEARCH for “power outages in northern virginia” on the washpost website I get decent results one click away:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/NewsSearch?st=power+outages+in+northern+virginia&fn=&sfn=&sa=ns&cp=&hl=false&sb=-1&sd=&ed=&blt=&sdt=&x=0&y=0

    Probably a bigger question is does a result from washpost pop up on your Google search since, as at least one commenter mentioned, that’s where most folks would look first. I just tried that and the first result was a washpost article:

    http://news.google.com/news?q=power%20outages%20in%20northern%20virginia&sourceid=navclient-ff&ie=UTF-8&rlz=1B3GGGL_en___US231&um=1&sa=N&tab=wn

  18. As the editor for local coverage, I appreciate the comments on our coverage yesterday. But I am compelled to point out:

    The page Scott uses for his example is not our home page for local users. We have one for our very large non-local audience, which is what you display in your blog post. You can change your settings, making the Washington home page your default, by clicking at the very top of the page. Had you looked at our local home page, you would have had a different experience, with very prominent display links to our capital weather gang coverage.

  19. [...] the Publishing 2.0, Scott Karp has a great article what newspapers still don’t understand about the web. It’s a fantastic read! Here’s an idea for newspaper website homepages — just a search [...]

  20. Jonathan,

    Thanks for the comment. I had already heard that others who were logged in had a different experience. Perhaps the lesson then is about assumptions around user registration and login. I’m a dedicated reader of WashingtonPost.com, but I never login. It may be necessary to supplement the customization for logged in users with geo-targeting based on IP address, which isn’t perfect, but it might have worked for me yesterday.

    I also think you should integrate the Capital Weather Gang blog into the main weather page, instead requiring another click to get to it.

    I think the main lesson is the tremendous pressure that Google puts on every site to make the user experience perfect. You had the data and coverage I wanted. You had the customization for local users. But somehow I still missed it and went to Google instead.

  21. It’s nice that you printed the Post editor’s comment, but the big question is why you didn’t approach them for comment BEFORE spouting off. It’s not only basic journalism, it’s basic decency to ask WHY before drawing an incomplete conclusion and then ripping them a new one without having the facts. Really bush-league job by you. Maybe you need to take a few college courses and then get back to us.

  22. I’m amused your outrage at finding wall-to-wall political coverage on the homepage of, golly, the main newspaper in the nation’s capitol when the presidential race is at full froth–it’s sort of quaint. What percentage of visitors straight to the nation’s traditional political authority from the whole web on a day like that do you think are there to look at beltway weather news?

    It’s interesting you carp about newspaper behaviors when you’re using the newspaper website in a very flat manner yourself (ie visit and look at homepage); I guess it’ll take both readers and editors learning to change behaviors (in your case, customizing with login tools) and use the opportunities the web provides to get what they’re looking for easily. Maybe use Google as your first step next time? The internet can’t read your mind about what you want from it yet, but that’s about as close as you’re gonna get in the meantime.

  23. [...] or not thunderstorms in suburban Virginia would snarl traffic or cause office closures. But, as Karp blogs, he must use a search engine to find the map, posted by the local power company,  of downed trees [...]

  24. [...] What Newspapers Still Don’t Understand About The Web It’s not paper. “And what’s the root cause problem? The useless article with no real-time data and no links was written for the PRINT newspaper. And the homepage is edited to match what will be important in the PRINT newspaper. And the navigation assumes I think like I do when I’m reading the PRINT newspaper.” [...]

  25. [...] is a post on Publishing 2.0 that is worth reading – What Newspapers Still Don’t Understand About The Web. It talks about how newspaper websites are still talking to a print audience. And what’s the root [...]

  26. How about clicking one a link for your local version? Front Page real estate is global and it is expensive.

  27. Nick,

    It’s the problem of “stupid users.” I was a stupid user because I didn’t login, or because my expectations were wrong, or because I didn’t search on the Post. I may be stupid, but I’m also typical, and Google made me feel smart. So that’s why Google wins.

  28. [...] Meeeeja , The inevitable Tags: breaking news, Google, online news, Scott Karp, Washington Post Scott Karp neatly highlights why newspapers – be it small locals or, in this case, larger ones like the Washington Post – are [...]

  29. CRS,

    This post was an analysis of my own experience as a real user. It’s not about what the Post intended. It’s about what actually happened to me. (See my comment above about “stupid users.”)

    As for journalistic process, I didn’t ask for a quote from the post not because I wasn’t interested, but because I wanted to get the facts of my experience posted. This is very relevant to the evolution of the practice of journalism. News orgs like the Post and the NYT and many others are posting the facts that they have as they have them, and supplementing the evolving story as they have more facts, including quotes from participants in the news.

    You could argue that this post validates new approaches, since the facts about the Post’s customization for logged users actually came to me, and I updated the post as soon as I got them.

  30. [...] Flop” was a good start, so let’s pile on the Post a little more over local [...]

  31. Google always wins! But the Washington Post can win too, and you, as a user, can win–“washington DC storms” and “beltway storms” both return Capitol Weather Gang as the top two pages, and those are pretty natural search terms.

    I’d argue that what makes a great newspaper website is just as much outside the site as in it; the washington post has succeeded here in being available (probably by some form of SEO) to people who perform the most basic internet query (arguably the most typical user action). user experience for any website no longer includes direct homepage visits, it’s how you get there too.

  32. Scott, that is just irresponsible. As I said, it is not just about old journalism “rules” that for some bizarre reason you think no longer apply, it is about the basic human decency of having someone explain before you jump to conclusions and post a long-winded critique of them. Instead of trying to validate your unprofessional behavior, learn a lesson from it. Would there have been any harm if you had waited 20 minutes to post your “analysis,” meantime seeking comment from the Post? Of course not.

  33. Nick,

    Part of the lesson is that the Post has more work to do on SEO — but there’s ALWAYS more work to do, as SEO is an evolving process, not a final state. I wasn’t searching for more info about the storms — I wanted to know about the power outages. Since power outages are local issues, it makes sense to be a target for SEO for newspapers.

  34. The #1 problem with newspapers is the “login” mentality, which is why they’re not making money. What they don’t understand, news is more about what we think about the news, not the news itself. Feature comments and blogs at the *top* of page, not the bottom! Try it, you could double or triple your traffic. I have several blogs but notice I’m leaving a comment here (instead of blogging a response) because it’s so quick and easy to do.

    99% of people won’t leave comments or participate because who has time for logins and passwords? Who wants to be tracked and spammed? The reality is most people won’t bother if it’s not easy to do. I understand newspapers are afraid of crazy anonymous people but it’s easy to manage, especially now with WordPress 2.5.x AJAX improvements.

  35. so, given the updates …

    with a little skill you don’t have to give up the global for the sake of the local … both are available …

    reading from india, i don’t care about the storm as much as the overall wapo view… the opposite if you are there of course

    glad both can coexist

  36. CRS,

    Here’s what highly respected Washington Post journalist Dana Milbank wrote in a blog post about Obama’s speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee yesterday:

    “As a pandering performance, it was the full Monty by a candidate who, during the primary, had positioned himself to Hillary Clinton’s left on matters such as Iran.”

    And yet Milbank apparently didn’t go to effort to get a quote from the Obama campaign. He just reported what he observed about the speech and added his own analysis.

    Is he irresponsible?

  37. Many users (especially “stupid users”) will START their search on Google. Where they END their search is up for grabs. If you are a newspaper publisher, then a key strategy should be to direct as many of those Google searches as possible to content on your site. SEO is key. I think most newspapers are starting to understand that now.

  38. There are multiple direct quotations from Obama in Milbank’s piece; he’d already explained himself.

    So now you are trying to validate your irresponsibily by finding examples where other media have been irresponsible, too? Well, unfortunately, you won’t have to look very hard. There was an excellent piece on Politico.com in the wake of HRC invoking RFK that said, essentially, Politico itself had become wrapped up in the rush to be first rather than to be fair and present the story in its proper perspective.

    You can try to absolve yourself by saying this is the current tide, but that doesn’t make it thorough, honest or decent. If you expect to have credibility, you’re going to support your opinions with basic reporting before popping off. And you need to admit it when you’ve been too lazy to do that instead of trying to weasel out of it.

  39. CRS,

    But Obama never had a chance to respond to Milbank’s principal assertion.

    The reality is the rush to be first exists, so it’s not tenable to say to news orgs, slow down and operate under the same time frames as once a day publishing. Politico.com demonstrates its own capacity for self-correction. It’s a messier process, with real risks, but realize too that audience expectations have changed. People are getting used to stories evolving on the web. They don’t have the same expectations of seeing everything perfectly sorted out when first posted.

    Even the New York Times editor Bill Keller understands this. Is he irresponsible?

    Also see my Update #3 above for additional thoughts on the relevance of a quote from the Post.

    Also, since you are effectively getting quoted in the comments here, don’t you think it would be more “responsible” to identify yourself with a real name rather than just initials?

  40. I’m backing the WashingtonPost.com here–This is NOT your local newspaper. It might have the same name as the city you live in. In fact, it could be re-named the WachingtonDCPost.com and and it would still not be your local newspaper.

    This is a NATIONAL paper (and BTW, a crap-load better than the NYT: war mongering bastards).

  41. Does the fact that you do get the storm story on the home page AFTER you log in make the analysis wrong? I don’t think so. The point being made is that it was not a user-friendly experience. How many people actually log in to a site to read the news unless all the stories are hidden behind the login wall? And if I didn’t have a login before, how the heck am I supposed to know that I get a different home page after I log in? That link to the local home page is also easily overlooked as well. And as important as political news is to the Post’s Web readership, last time I checked, the Post hasn’t disavowed its non-political coverage. For a story with as much impact and local interest as this storm, it wouldn’t have been hard to slap a prominent promo to the storm story on the global page as well. And I think a storm is a case where people might actually start off on a site’s home page because you think, “Who will have stories about the storm? Oh, the local newspaper and TV station,” and then you go to those sites expecting prominently displayed stories. Should the analysis have been more accurate about the whole login thing? Sure. But saying “oh but you can see the storm story on the home page after you log in” is a pretty weak retort to criticism that you made it hard for readers to find your information.

  42. Scott, what’s hilarious is that your Keller piece is based on, at best, third-hand information. Via Gawker, via a source who somehow managed multiple direct quotations from the meeting (digital recorder? shorthand? made it up?). Which tells us all we need to know about your efforts to vet what you publish. Oh, right … that’s the way it is on the Internet! But be honest — you make no effort to contact those you write about or to verify what you post, do you? Can you give us a link to something you’ve actually sourced?

  43. CRS,

    I’ll ask again — who are you? I think the readers of this blog have a right to know what your biases, affiliations, and vested interests are. If you don’t want to disclose, the principles you advocate suggest I should delete your comments, given that you are an unverifiable anonymous source. Hiding behind anonymity is possibly one of the most unprincipled things you can do in online media, and the use of anonymity as a front for advocating principled behavior, arguably one of the most hypocritical.

    As for your challenge, how’s this post? What, “too lazy” to look for an example yourself before you make blanket state about this blog?

  44. Most of your posters are anonymous, as are the vast majority of posters on most message boards and blogs. I’ll just say that I’ve never been employed by The Washington Post. So get off your high horse. If you don’t want people to post anonymously, say so at the get-go, not just after they make you look bad.

    Wow, that was some example of vetting — it’s what we call a “one-source story.” Hope you didn’t strain yourself.

  45. Scott, deleting comments is not a good idea, but it is a good question that you asked.

    You should allow unhampered debate from all sides, even anonymous users.

  46. [...] came across a long analysis piece today criticizing the Washington Post’s Web site for making it difficult for readers to find [...]

  47. sad to hear about the aipac speech, four more years of business as usual?

  48. CRS,

    Are you a journalist? Or do you just play one on the web?

    Seriously, enough about me, let’s talk about you.

    I’m working with Google on figuring out who you are. You know, a bit of investigative journalism. No luck yet, but I’ll keep at it.

    Or let’s try a different approach. I’ll post your critique as an update to this post if you go on the record.

    It’s people like you, who insist on engaging in anonymous asymmetrical debate, that keep so many journalists gun shy about engaging with their audiences, something that would enhance transparency and the practice of journalism. There’s nothing like sparing with a hostile reader to keep you sharp and honest.

    If nothing else, you’ve gotten me seriously contemplating establishing a policy of no anonymous commenting on this blog, so for that I actually have to thank you.

    A few quick comments on topic, here’s a news designer who cited this post and who happens to agree (do you have any news design experience?), but what’s interesting is that he propagates the updated fact about the Post’s local version for logged in users. Remind me again what the problem is.

    Oh, and here is a link to this post on the New York Times Technology page. Their editors must have gotten sloppy today, linking to an unverified piece of non-journalism. But of course we’ve already established that you have higher standards than even Bill Keller (although you deftly prove how Gawker’s quote was false).

  49. I really, really like publishing2.com – and this post sums up all the reasons why. Thank you!

    If you think you have problems with the WP: our largest English morning paper here in the Western Cape province of South Africa is the Cape Times, which is produced in Cape Town – which is 500 km away from where I live. So when I wanted to read a particular article on a day when technical problems had delayed delivery, I naturally went on line – only to find that, beyond the headlines and an introductory paragraph or two, I could only read the news if I had a user name and password – which I was only entitled to if I subscribed to the print edition.

    Catch 22.

    My solution? Google, of course.

  50. So you want to “out” me? That’s a no-no on any online community of which I’ve been a part. In fact, most places would ban you for even threatening such a thing. It’s a low-class way of trying to skirt the real argument and you will lose your audience once they see that if they disagree with you, you will threaten to first delete their comments and then hunt down their identities. All you had to do in the first place was say “yes, I should gave shot a query over to the Post.” Now it’s become a big pissing match in which you are resorting to threats against those who dare challenge you. You come off looking rather small. And you are about to learn that your audience will decrease because of it.

  51. I am trying to figure out if Scott is Loren Feldman, or just a Wannabe?

    But I guess Scot needs to figure it out for himself!

    Right Dude! lol

  52. CRS,

    I’m not threatening to out you. I’m trying to persuade you to out yourself. Nor am I going to delete your comments, which I’ve never done, despite having gotten into “pissing matches” before — I was just observing that your principles would lead me to consider that. But as I already stated, what it has lead me to do is consider banning anonymous comments as a stated policy of this blog.

    But I think the issue of anonymity on the web is totally germane to this debate, especially after you slammed Gawker for their quoting an anonymous source to quote Bill Keller, suggesting that this made the information suspect (when in fact I think it’s just your bias against Gawker — but then since I don’t know who you are, I can only infer your biases).

    In any case, you got off the topic on your very first comment by critiquing the lack of citing a Post source, instead of addressing the issue of news site design. So if anything, I just let you drag me down into the mud. But I actually think it’s totally relevant.

    So what you’re saying is if I just blindly agree with my critics, even when I don’t agree, then I can avoid an ugly argument. Yeah, that’s a great lesson for journalists.

    If I’m small because I’m standing my ground instead of just agreeing with you so you’ll go away, then shrink me down.

    If this comment thread stands as object lesson, good and bad, then I’m very happy to have it here.

    As to your suggestion that I compromise my principles to maintain my audience, if someone wants to stop reading this blog because I stood up to your anonymous bullying, then so be it.

    In fact, maybe I should start a movement against anonymity on the web. You could make a strong argument that it’s cowardly and actually destructive to the health of communities — just look at Facebook, one of the most thriving online communities, which insists on real identity.

  53. [...] What Newspapers Still Don’t Understand About The Web – Publishing 2.0 I struggled trying to find info about the storm on my iPhone last night as I sat on the runway at Dulles. Why doesn’t the Post just blow up its home page and stream all its content together? Because: then what would the editors do? (tags: newspapers web blogs) [...]

  54. [...] in my RSS box this valuable insight by Scott Karp at Publishing 2.0 about the way in which local news ought to be brought to the [...]

  55. [...] What Newspapers Still Don’t Understand About The Web Why is Google making more money everyday while newspapers are making less? (tags: journalism google newspaper+websites) [...]

  56. [...] What Newspapers Still Donâ??t Understand About The Web – Publishing 2.0 – “It was a brilliant web-native news and information effort â?? BURIED three layers deep, where I couldnâ??t FIND it. Is it any wonder why Google makes $20 billion on search?” [...]

  57. [...] What Newspapers Still Don’t Understand About The Web – Publishing 2.0 (tags: web news newspaper journalism work) [...]

  58. [...] What Newspapers Still Don’t Understand About The WebAnother sad example of how newspapers continue to fail online. [...]

  59. I can’t find a reference in your posting or the comments to loudounextra.com, which seems ironic, since the site has been so much in the news this week and since it strongly covers the storm on the homepage.

  60. [...] of error, and there are no stupid users, only inadequate designs. Those were the main points of my critique of newspaper websites generally, and WashingtonPost.com in particular, which to be fair, apply to all online publishers, and really [...]

  61. Great Post! I couldn’t agree more. See my related post on Social Media Today and PitchEngine http://tinyurl.com/66dyse

  62. [...] What Newspapers Still Don’t Understand About the Web is a short article by Scott Karp of Publishing 2.0 on, you guessed it, how newspapers fail online. As a test case, Karp uses The Washington Post and a recent storm in Washington D.C.: This is the WASHINGTON Post, right? So where’s the news about Washington? We just got pounded by a nasty storm — but it’s not homepage worthy. [...]

  63. [...] What Newspapers Still Don’t Understand About The Web – Publishing 2.0 “It was a brilliant web-native news and information effort — BURIED three layers deep, where I couldn’t FIND it.” (tags: newspapers web2.0 cultural-norms assumptions business-culture publishing media design editing) [...]

  64. [...] Read the rest of this post Print all_things_di220:http://voices.allthingsd.com/20080606/what-newspapers-still-dont-understand-about-the-web/ Sphere Comment Tagged: Reston, WashingtonPost.com, Publishing 2.0, Scott Karp, Voices, Washington Post, Google | permalink [...]

  65. [...] good article compared Google’s news coverage to Washington Post as a story develops.  The article demonstrates how newspaper sites are burying the things that [...]

  66. [...] and more I’m seeing articles like this, which extol the virtues of technology companies — in this case Google — and their [...]

  67. A link to a WaPo comment would have been a simple solution to the rather tiresome, and distracting series of arguments between yourself and CRS.

    But that’s not why I’m here. I’m interested in getting an answer to a question I’ve been asking of media professionals: is integration really the solution to cross-media publishing?

    The WaPo Online is written, as you accurately point out, as an electronic version of the print format. Sine I work in the media/publishing industry I can only imagine this is the result of some arcane cost-saving initiative that insists on using the same writers/editors to produce content for the print and online versions (the notable exceptions being bloggers–who are buried as you indicated).

    If the suggested solution is a different team of people operating, designing and creating content for each media, we’re essentially gutting the ‘integrated workforce’ idea prevalent in the community these days: editors/writers/publishers need to think platform agnostic. But in truth, they can’t because creating for each media requires different sensibilities and aptitudes (Web sites should be designed differently, etc.) so is retraining editors/writers a futile endeavor? Or should newspapers/magazines et al create new divisions that deal separately with each product (thereby opening up a whole new can of worms in terms of workflow, etc.)

    I can only imagine this would create difficulties in terms of branding as well…

    Discuss!

  68. Hey, just a note on your comment on the top newspaper Web sites. I’ve seen a number of other bloggers make this same mistake: the story you linked to isn’t the Top 25 newspaper Web sites, as in the Best 25 newspaper Web sites. It’s the Top 25 Newspapers — meaning the 25 biggest in terms of print circulation — and then a grading of their scorecard. So the Washinton Post is not ranked the fifth-best in the nation, it’s simply the fifth-largest newspaper. Then, if you actually read the story, you find a letter grade at the end of each Web site review.

  69. [...] What Newspapers Still Don’t Understand About The Web – Publishing 2.0 They bury their good web native content under their “traditional” content, making it sadly wasted. (tags: new.media wapo blogging newspaper design community weather) [...]

  70. Ash wrote, “The WaPo Online is written, as you accurately point out, as an electronic version of the print format. Sine I work in the media/publishing industry I can only imagine this is the result of some arcane cost-saving initiative that insists on using the same writers/editors to produce content for the print and online versions….”

    All wrong. While the website does take and repurpose a ton of the content from the print site, there’s plenty of original online reporting, all day every day. It’s even two separate organizations: The Washington Post is The Washington Post, but washingtonpost.com is Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive.

    Google may be awesome, but people have to actually USE it in order to avoid being massively misinformed.

  71. [...] What Newspapers Still Don?t Understand About The Web – Un post che analizza la copertura di una notizia da parte di un quotidiano online, sottolineandone gli errori di metodo. [...]

  72. [...] : What Newspapers Still Don’t Understand About The Web – Publishing 2.0. [...]

  73. [...] es que los medios tradicionales en su evolución de periódico a website, den bien los pasos. En Publishing 2.0 muestran un ejemplo sobre cómo siguen sin entender el mundo online al continuar en su redacción [...]

  74. [...] What Newspapers Still Don’t Understand About The Web – “Why is Google making more money everyday while newspapers are making less? I’m going to pick on The Washington Post again only because it’s my local paper and this is a local example.” [...]

  75. I worked in the newspaper industry for twenty years. With the corporate take over from family run papers and the drive to make profits, I’ve see newspapers cut quality content every year and then wonder why circulation continues to decline.

    Often newspapers attempt to transition to the web. Unfortunately, they have cut so many of their resources the content is nothing special.

    Some papers get it, but without the support and formula to drive revenue in the online world it is often a half hearted effort.

    Rosh
    http://www.prosperousartists.com

  76. another good way for google – direction of IBM – to professional services – they could go for consulting. or open their knowledge database for everyone..

    i fully agree that newspapers dont fully use the opportunities created by internet. like customization.. how i would love to avoid the worst rubbish on the main webpage.. or block tabloid + fashion content that on polish e-newspapers floods on the first page.. – they want to entertain people.. i think actually that this kind of customization + official knowledege databases – like all medicine knowledge, all law in official easily accesible databases are the future of intenet..

    on my newspaper which is polands biggest i look only at two windows – news and economy.. and half of these is not what i really wanted to find there..

  77. [...] What Newspapers Still Don’t Understand About The Web – Publishing 2.0 Why is Google making more money everyday while newspapers are making less? I’m going to pick on The Washington Post again only because it’s my local paper and this is a local example. (tags: newspaper google revenue publishing) [...]

  78. Scott, your comments about WaPo cluelessness are right on, but you’ve only scratched the surface. That’s particularly upsetting for me personally, since I was privileged to be a part of the Team AOL that crushed WaPo’s original online venture (ever hear of Digital Ink?) nearly a decade and a half ago. If you’d like to follow up on this, please contact me offline.
    Steve S, Capital Weather Gang

  79. [...] disso agora ao ler o post “What Newspapers Still Don´t Understand About the Web”. O cara fica danado ao ver que encontra notícias no Google sobre uma tempestade que castigou [...]

  80. This is not just about the WP. Traditional publishers, especially print publishers, are still largely stuck on re-purposing the their old media to the web.

    PCs and mobile internet devices are taking share from television with share of screen time almost doubling in the last year from around 13% to around 23% of the time we spend watching video.

    The competitive landscape for publishers is converging rapidly. Consumers can now get video, audio, text and images from all types of publishers from around the globe for every use case. For example, consumers riding the bus to work who used to read the paper now have the choice of watching the NY Times, browsing the headlines from CNN or listening to their favorite sports podcast. Print, television radio and new online publishers are all now competing for the audience’s attention.

    The enormous shift of the audience to new channels opens up a window opportunity for those willing to make the investment. The winners will be true multi-media companies who understand the best practices of the web.

    I’ve recently been doing best practice reviews for how publishers are using playable, downloadable and subscribable media and the verdict is that even the best of the efforts by traditional publishers is abysmal compared to the best of the pure play new media companies.

    There is a huge one time breakout opportunity for the publisher that gets it and implements it well.

    Great post.

    Best

    Alex

    Alex Nesbitt
    Digital Podcast

  81. You think WaPo is bad. Just take a gander at the Chicago Tribune. The top 25 “newspaper websites” on rates it as “mediocre” and the current version is a vast improvement over the initial iteration which literally just featured a long list of article titles — as if it were the results page to a poorly engineered research database.

    P.S. A nice critique on the WaPo site by Tufte:

    The redesign replaces news with design. The argument for doing so is bogus, because clutter and confusion can be reduced while at the same time the amount of available news increased.

  82. [...] What Newspapers Still Don’t Understand About The Web – Publishing 2.0 “Here’s an idea for newspaper website homepages — just a search box and a list of blogs. Seriously. Instead of putting all the web-native content and publishing in the blog ghetto, like NYTimes.com does, why not make that the WHOLE site? “ (tags: internet newspapers newspapersites journalism blogging webdesign ui washingtonpost) [...]

  83. [...] Karp illustrates this with a breakdown of the Washington Post. It’s like newspapers on the web as saying: here’s all the static stuff we produced for the [...]

  84. Hi Scott

    What if you type the same search phrase (as you would type in Google) in Washington Post search box?

    Does the relevent news appear?

    If so, I cannot see your point here in this article.

    Cheers,
    Fred

  85. [...] I already drilled a nerve with What Newspapers Still Don’t Understand About The Web, which is on its way to becoming one of my most linked posts ever — and since everyone loves [...]

  86. [...] I already drilled a nerve with What Newspapers Still Don’t Understand About The Web, which is on its way to becoming one of my most linked posts ever — and since everyone loves [...]

  87. > means I didn’t have all the facts.

    a pity, and here you were at a newspaper site… ;+)

    -bowerbird

  88. [...] What Newspapers Still Don’t Understand About The Web – Publishing 2.0 [...]

  89. I have a similar complaint about my location newspaper, the Lexington Herald (Kentucky). For years I have visited their website almost daily and often grumbled (mostly to myself) about how terrible their site is, and how much more they could make off their site… I also noticed that every newspaper this company owned had the same layout… knowing that they owned a significant number of newspapers I figured they could be make tons more. Anyway, I was talking my boss about the online version of the newspaper, and he described a completely different (but nonetheless frustrating) experience to me. I just could not figure out what he was talking about. Then he showed me online… there is actually a nifty paid service that allows you to easily navigate the printed version online. It’s not the experience I would ever pay for… but just the fact that in my years of spending time on the site, I never found out about this nifty version of the paper is bizarre. I now see that in the upper left, they have in *tiny* “Customer Care Center
    Subscriber Services
    Log in/Subscribe to eEdition”. Must be my fault that I overlooked that amidst the mess that is the online version of the Lexington Herald!

  90. [...] What newspapers don’t get about the web: for a half-assed blogger and more of a web spectator than participant, I get into a lot of conversations about the Internet, blogs and their validity, and what’s what on the web. This doesn’t cover all of that but is a pretty good case study of some of the differences between blogging and traditional media, and gets no [via] since I’ve seen it in the links or readers of at least a half-dozen people whose knowledge of these matters is more complete than mine.  [...]

  91. Scott, I’ve read through some of the comments and I have to agree with the ones that disagree with your point of view. You are comparing apples and oranges.
    Maybe you should have compared Yahoo! vs. Google. How can you compare 2 websites that are fundamentally different? One generates content, and the other aggregates it. Of course if your point was to point out how badly the Washington Post website was laid out or how hard it was to find the specific content you were looking for, that falls under a usability discussion. Would you be happy if the landing page of Washington Post just had an input field and a Search button, like the Google page?

  92. Jay,

    Excellent articulation of why Google’s web business is growing while newspapers’ web business isn’t growing fast enough to make up for declining print.

    Newspapers used to be in the aggregation business — the bundle that landed on your doorstep. Now they are just in the content business. But Google has shown the best economics in online media are in distribution and aggregation.

    So who says newspapers shouldn’t be in the aggregation business? If they were, they might find a way to make a lot more money on the web.

    Don’t be boxed in by legacy thinking and layers of assumptions. And don’t be reductive about how you interpret the need to learn from Google.

  93. [...] What Newspapers Still Don’t Understand About The Web publishing2 Why is Google making more money everyday while newspapers are making less? I’m going to pick on The Washington Post again only because it’s my local paper and this is a local example. (Visit Link) [...]

  94. It’s worth noting that the Post didn’t forget to link to the Weather Gang Blog on today’s homepage:

  95. [...] What newspapers still don’t understand about the web [...]

  96. Newspapers still don’t understand that they died when web 2.0 started. Google and other websites are now doing better than newspapers, magazines, and radios combined. I actually wrote an article about this topic, here is the link if anyone is interested on learning more about online advertisement, and how newspapers and other traditional media died a long time ago.

    http://smallbusinessspot.blogspot.com/

  97. [...] information about it. Unfortunately, despite being a DC-based publication, the Post’s home page had very little information about the storm. Indeed, the home page wouldn’t have mentioned it at all if there didn’t happen to be a story on [...]

  98. [...] information about it. Unfortunately, despite being a DC-based publication, the Post’s home page had very little information about the storm. Indeed, the home page wouldn’t have mentioned it at all if there didn’t happen to be a story on [...]

  99. [...] about it. Unfortunately, despite being a DC-based publication, the Post’s home page had very little information about the storm. Indeed, the home page wouldn’t have mentioned it at all if there didn’t happen to be a [...]

  100. [...] A good case study from Publishing 2.0 on how ‘old publishing’ concepts are still struggling with the new forms the web are forcing upon it. [...]

  101. [...] about it. Unfortunately, despite being a DC-based publication, the Post’s home page had very little information about the storm. Indeed, the home page wouldn’t have mentioned it at all if there didn’t happen to be a [...]

  102. [...] how Google is beating newspapers at delivering pertinent information. Topics: Media, Web, [...]

  103. [...] Das wundervoll gewählte Beispiel der Washington Post kommt mir gelegen, weil ich dazu gerade ein paar Kommentare aus dem echten, gebloggten Erfahrungsschatz eines Kenners zur Hand habe: Scott Karp auf Publishing 2.0 What Newspapers Still Don’t Understand About The Web [...]

  104. [...] on Publishing 2.0 you’ll find two posts that I loved: ‘What Newspapers Still Don’t Understand About The Web’ and ‘What Magazines Still Don’t Understand About The Web’  – both of which left me [...]

  105. [...] What newspapers still don’t understand about the Web – In this post, Publishing 2.0 – a Website that covers the evolution of media – gives newspapers, and the Washington Post in particular, an A for effort but a lower grade for execution in moving material online and making it relevant to local readers. [...]

  106. [...] need to start accepting the fact that their online product is their primary service. There’s a reason that 50% of your web traffic comes from Google: search is a web dashboard, [...]

  107. [...] on Publishing 2.0 you’ll find two posts that I loved: ‘What Newspapers Still Don’t Understand About The Web’ and ‘What Magazines Still Don’t Understand About The Web’ – both of which left me wondering [...]

  108. [...] What newspapers still don’t understand about the web [...]

  109. [...] over it. Until the day that publishers resolve their angst about putting all their content online, you’ll just have to bite the bullet now and then. Like this month’s Esquire — a [...]

  110. [...] Our new publisher, Steve Pope, came for an introduction last week and talked alot about content. I liked that, and I liked what he had to say – that newspapers (and journalists) have forgotten that they need to listen. [...]

Add Your Comment

Subscribe

Receive new posts by email