Friday, October 10, 2008

Daily News -- A Watch Dog (negative) Review

Ok, so it has been a day since the Daily News papers (Redwood City, San Mateo, Palo Alto, Burlingame) changed their online systems. Since I am an amateur media critic but a near-professional online newspaper reader, I have some thoughts.

In short, I think it stinks.

It stinks because it is not user friendly. It is difficult to sign up and use and it is impossible, as far as I can tell, for Watch Dog (or anyone else) to link to stories. After you actually sign up to be able to read the online version of the paper, it is hard to navigate. It is like those old microfiche/microfilm things from the library -- scrolling through the paper is difficult. If people wanted to read a paper like that, they would get the paper in hard copy. This is the Internet -- no scrolling necessary.

The Forum section that used to be very active and located in the top right hand corner of their front-page sections on all of their online papers has been relocated to a weird forum section that is a bit hard to find now -- and seemingly less likely to foster discussion.

Another big beef Watch Dog has is that old links from any source, whether from this blog or from Google News or anywhere else link to an error page at the Daily News papers. That is just stupid. Why wouldn't the newspaper to be able to get to links from old stories?

Watch Dog has done a bit of research about the new publishing software that the Daily News folks are using. It is part of the -- which is the website for "Tecnavia...a window to the World." Some information from their homepage:

From their main page:

NewsMemory offers publishers high-tech, headache free solutions in creating electronic editions, electronic archives, electronic tearsheets, and electronic clips.

Because the NewsMemory solutions are primarily based on service driven and turnkey models, newspapers are able to get started with little or no investment and can immediately begin to create new streams of revenue.
Here is information about the "e-edition" which seems to be what the Daily News papers are using:

NewsMemory electronic editions are the most “publisher-friendly” e-editions available on the market.

NewsMemory’s technology automatically converts any publication into an online e-edition without the need for heavy PDF downloads, proprietary viewers, or slow plug-ins.

NewsMemory provides a turnkey solution with no need to change the newspaper’s workflow and it seamlessly integrates with existing technologies.

NewsMemory is “electronic editions made easy."
What Watch Dog is struck by is that this "turnkey" solution is billed as "publisher-friendly" but what about reader-friendly. Isn't that the idea of an online newspaper? I think the new software is awkward to use and requires sign-up -- no doubt to sell more advertising. Watch Dog isn't against advertising sales -- but sacrificing reader experience to sell more ads is weird and seems counterproductive.

So, my review is not positive for the new Daily News system. Sorry friends. Watch Dog will continue to provide your stories to readers, but unless I can link to them, it is going to take an enormous amount of effort -- which sucks.

Readers' thoughts?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That's funny. When I visited the new online site my first thought was - wow, we have stepped back in time.

Someone there didn't get the memo about ease of use, readability or service.