Dateline: Thu 03 Feb 2011

A friend sent a piece Jan. 25 about Ongo, a website that would charge users $7 a month "to look at news that is for the most part free elsewhere."

The friend noted: "I can only hope the Star gets its Web site running properly if it really wants to do this."

On the heels of this is the 4th quarter report from Gannett, bragging about its improved earnings. BUT the devil is in the digital details, as Jim Hopkins of Gannet Blog reports. Feb. 2. Here's the gist:

"Gannett Bloggers are debating the company's ability to prosper on the still-small revenues from its non-print Digital Segment portfolio of companies, which includes jobs site CareerBuilder and ad services subsidiary PointRoll. In the fourth quarter, those revenues rose 5.2% from the prior year, to $166 million....

"'We still have the problem of financing a newspaper chain with paltry digital revenues,' says Anonymous.

"'Yes, the digital revenues are increasing, but they were only $165.8 million in the last quarter. You can't run a newspaper chain with that amount of money, and without print.'"

I must say, and many readers of this blog have said it: the IndyStar website is uniformly and infinitely lousy. Print runs into print, stories are sketchy, archived stories disappear in days and the whole thing looks like a 2nd grader's version of Facebook. Not sophisticated, not easy to read and not cool.

But then, Gannett does not reward those who toil in this field; they let go Bob Jonason from the Indianapolis Star, who was a web whiz; he kept the operation afloat with grace and vigor. Others, too, have bit the dust. A few weeks ago, the Star ran an ad for someone to work part-time,  running the website over the weekends. That is pure rinky dink. 

As someone observed on Gannett Blog, the company needs to figure out what its direction is....

Also in the news: the local Indianapolis Guild is looking for a new president. Talk about a difficult job.


hendy [Member] said:

The website suffers from four problems. First, no one obviously gives a rat's patooty if it's running correctly or not, and this is the most onerous problem. Secondly, the CMS, or Content Management Systems is right out of the dark ages. Go to other magazine, webzine, or newspaper sites and compare them to the rinkydink software used by the Star. Unforgivably awful.

Thirdly, finding no reasonable revenue plan, the site isn't well tended for user-community activity. Gravity is a strong draw, and gravity for readers means participation in the social networking sense. Ever seen a Facebook logo there? This is because of reason #2. So, no community, no stickyness, no heavy pageviews, no gravitas.

Finally, you're looking at backwater content on a good day, and struggles by a handful of writers and journalists to do a good job under gruesome conditions-- from many angles. Editorial leadership is bad, handicapped further by lack of budget, and the sense that the whole thing is run strictly by the sales department.

Ok, out of bile and off my soap box. Next?

2011-02-03 13:42:40

ruthholl [Member] said:

I like this so much I would like to use it as a separate post, so feel free to expand. It's very spot on.
I am going to post it....if you have anything to add, please do so.

2011-02-03 16:54:52

Seneca [Member] said:

Take a look at the Gannett-owned Louisville Courier-Journal, Indiana edition:

Ugh :(

2011-02-03 17:05:58

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