Tuesday, May 20, 2008

News Journal On-Line Makeover Disaster #4

The News Journal, Delaware's top daily newspaper, recently made-over its on-line offerings and I am not very happy with the result. It's still better than the other Delaware daily, which offers essentially no on-line content, but I find the new News Journal site hard to use and off-putting.

There's too much stuff on the News Journal web page, so it takes far too long to load. Some sections aren't well dated; it's hard to see what's actually new. And the site goes too far down the road to trying to be a social site, making things simply more confusing.

But none of those problems, as annoying as they are, is News Journal On-Line Makeover Disaster #4. No, today I want to talk to you about RSS feeds and how poorly they are implemented on the News Journal site.

RSS feeds can be a great way to organize and consume data; they are particularly useful for news and news-related content. Since I can't dependably find news content on the News Journal site, I have subscribed to three of their feeds: News, Politics, and Opinion.

The News feed seems pretty straightforward; it repeats the headlines from the main "News" section each morning. That's good. The Opinion feed doesn't appear to have been updated since May 16. That's bad. The Politics feed seems to be a special case. It updates every few hours and offers a broad spectrum of news headlines. Sometimes, there is even political news.

Here are the latest headlines from the News Journal Politics feed, as found in my reader:
So, out of 10 "political" headlines, 3 are actually about politics. The rest seem to be "latest updates." Further, the politics feed has a tendency to repeat itself, and to repeat headlines found in the other feeds, particularly in the morning.

Am I being picky? Yes. But the News Journal is a business. It sells ads based on readers/viewers and I am one of those readers. My attention to the site -- my clicking through from my RSS reader -- is crucial to the business model of the News Journal site. If they make that progressively harder, they will lose readers and they will not be able to sell ads as well.

So, as a fairly polite fellow, I left a comment on the new site's readers' forum , in the section titled "Redesign Feedback." That was two weeks ago. I have had no response. I did send an e-mail to the on-line editor and got a polite, but not very helpful reply suggesting that I might be getting repeats in the RSS feeds if I've subscribed to both the "sports" feed and the "Phillies" feed. That might be an issue if they had an "Orioles" feed, but they don't.

So I decided to complain to you, and potentially, to everyone who searches the web for information on "News Journal RSS Feeds."

1 comment:

Nancy Willing said...

I am glad you had the energy to do this post.
The WNJ site's problems are well documented here. I have long complained that they aren't dating things and don't employ flow charts nor organize articles and keep them in their place.
For yet another instance, the opinion pages show their opinion on which opinion they want to showcase and there is a huge redundency. The side bar showcases certain 'choice' opinions o' the day but don't differentiate whether they are from they public or the WNJ editorials.
And there is no easy path to a particular columnist and their body of work like their used to be (at least I haven't stumbled on to it yet).
I go to letters to the editor for the comprehensive list and use the sidebar to determine which editorials they are featuring that day too.
The Dialogue Delaware blog, at least, has a sidebar of the blog content that you can swing through fairly quickly.
There, now I got some of it off of my chest too!

Post a Comment