Monday, July 9, 2012

A view of newspapers from the inside: Not good

Thanks to a loyal FFE reader who sent along this link to a good New York Times column about our favorite industry.

In case you don't have time to read the whole thing, here is a section that refers to the Advance efforts, particularly the recent ones in New Orleans:

"Given that context, it's not hard to see why Advance Publications is making huge moves in some of the 25 cities where it publishes newspapers, most notably in New Orleans, where it is spending the summer reducing the staff.
Advance's regional Web sites have generated traffic and have active forums, but they are a miserable place to consume news. Balky and ugly, with a digital revenue base below much of the rest of the industry, they seem like a shaky platform on which to build a business. Some recent traffic trends are not encouraging. According to Nielsen, The Times-Picayune's site,, had 639,000 unique visitors in May, compared with over a million in that month a year ago.
Once upon a time, the Newhouse family kept unions at bay by promising lifetime employment, but now the company wants to shed people, and legacy costs, as quickly as it can. The plan is built on accounting, not strategy, which is why some of the newspaper's heavy hitters have declined offers from the newly reconfigured enterprise.
David Hammer, who played a large role in The Times-Picayune's coverage of the rebuilding efforts after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, took a job with the New Orleans CBS affiliate, WWL-TV, doing investigative work; he will be joined by Brendan McCarthy, one of the newspaper's young stars.
Stephanie Grace, a former statewide columnist, declined a job as a reporter, and Bill Barrow, a longtime reporter who covered health care, is going to work for The Associated Press. Bob Marshall, a Pulitzer Prize winner and the newspaper's outdoors editor, took a pass as well."


Anonymous said...

I wonder what Carr's source is in saying that Advance's "digital revenue base below much of the rest of the industry"? Advance, being a private company, doesn't release financial data.

Anonymous said...

I've often sought words to describe the Mlive experience, and leave it to one of the few relevant papers in the country to sum it up accurately.

"A miserable place to consume news"

Maybe I'm not the target audience, but it almost seems as if whoever designed the Newhouse template went out of their way to design something ugly and difficult to navigate that demeans the reader.

Jim of L-Town said...

I have no idea who Carr's source is, but can't imagine that anyone is bucking this trend:

Anonymous said...

The website was designed by George Frederick, Advance Publication's "design guru" based in Star Ledger's NJ newsroom. Compares to the previous, embarrassingly bad design, the new version is still a huge improvement.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 8:05

Please, please, please tell me how it is an improvement? I'm not being cynical, I just don't understand how this is in anyway improved? the yellow color is abysmal and the rolling scrolling news stories fed based on what time they are written, none ever getting any extra "play" because they are important (except for those with the most commentaries mentioned on the right side column, but most commentaries is hardly any measure of importance since the death of a dog can often result in more commentary than most boring but important news stories). I am honestly asking for even a small description of what makes this website better so that I can at least try to see that.