When I bailed from the Daily News in 2001, the print edition was losing readers in droves, but relatively few of them were being lured to the paper's website although the Internet was The Next Big Thing.
The website was a mess because almost no one except the webmaster took it seriously. Certainly not Managing Editor Ellen Foley and the other people with the big offices, who were too busy milking cows, churning butter and collecting eggs -- you know, the stuff that newspaper editors had been doing since forever. And no matter how big the story, updating anything on the website during a news cycle took an act of Congress.
Foley is long gone, thank God. But despite dramatic advances in website design and maintenance, five years later the Daily News website is only marginally better. It mainly just has more stuff. This failure to develop a website that reflects and builds on the News's biggest asset -- its street smart, in-your-face character -- reflects an institutional inability to move away from the old model (cow milking, and so on). This despite the fact that the paper has had a gun to its head for years and its survival remains in doubt despite having new owners who vow to keep it alive. As it is, even on a good day the print edition sells only as half as many copies as it did 10 years ago.
Worse, although the Daily News has in Will Bunch one of the best newspaper bloggers anywhere, they're trying to keep that secret.When I mentioned that the Attytood link is hard to find to the paper's webmaster, his response was lame: He explained that the paper is in the process of getting a new system with more flexible templates. In the process. Maybe they've sent to China for those templates and the slow boat hit a reef off of Singapore.
Unlike many bloggers, Bunch generates lots of excellent original content based on his own reporting, but the link to his Attytood blog on the website home page is buried beneath practically everything except the foundation garment ads. Unless you already were aware that Will is lurking in the tall grass waiting to pounce on his prey of the day, you would never know that Attytood existed.
Worse still, Flavia Colgin's commentaries on her Citizen Hunter blog are reliably unoriginal exercises in liberal agitprop, but a link to her blog is displayed well above Attytood. Maybe it's because she's cuter than Will.
It's almost like the cow milkers are embarrassed about a guy who is trying to keep the herd from being taken to the slaughterhouse.
My question is whether the News will even exist by the time the new templates arrive.The situation is in some respects worse upstairs at the News's sister paper, The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Although people in Sioux Falls or Louisville are none the wiser, the Inky has had to use to use the same butt ugly website template shared by most of the papers in the late, semi-lamented Knight Ridder chain despite having its own character, as well. And the Inky does an even better job than the News of hiding Dan Rubin's Blinq and its other blogs.
This failure also reflects an institutional inability to move away from the old model despite the fact that the Inky also is bleeding readers. (There also is a certain high-mindedness that still permeates the Inky newsroom culture that is insufferable, but I've save that for another rant.)
As if all of this wasn't bad enough, the parent company of the News and Inky runs a dreary umbrella website called philly.com
This site looks like a ransom note. (No, check that. I've seen better looking ransom notes.) Philly.com claims to be "the region's home page" and for me it's biggest draw should be breaking local news. Problem is, it sucks at that.