Newspaper Websites

June 3, 2008

There’s a ranking of the top 25 newspaper websites at 24/7 Wall St (via Techmeme). 247WS is, by the way, nothing to do with the Wall Street Journal.

I was disappointed to find that it’s a ranking of large US daily metropolitan newspapers. So my favorite newspaper website doesn’t get a look in. I thought it was the world wide web.

The New York Times gets the top spot and an A grade from 247WS. However, it doesn’t get a link, and neither do any of the other sites. Evidence that 247WS doesn’t get the web mounts.

The Boston Globe is about halfway down the list, in 12th place.

It is odd that is such a good website and has such a long way to go. Both are part of the same parent company… There are some creative sections, like a homicide map of Boston, to keep readers on the site… But, the overall effort is uninspired. Grade: C.

My favorite newspaper website is The Guardian. Here’s a rather lovely bit from an interview with Ravi Shankar, in which the sitar man talks about being scheduled to follow Hendrix at the Monterey festival in 1967.

“I thought he was fantastic, but so very loud,” Shankar says now, shaking his head. “And then he would do that thing with his instrument when he would open up a can of gasoline and burn his guitar… for me, the burning of the guitar was the greatest sacrilege possible… I told them that even if I had to pay some kind of compensation to get out of playing the festival, I just couldn’t do it.” The organisers’ solution was to give Shankar his own stage for an altogether more civilised afternoon performance of assorted ragas, during which Hendrix sat quietly in the front row.

It might appear that my preference for the Guardian over the NYT, etc., is a bias in favour of the UK and against the USA. Let me reassure you that it isn’t. Why, I’m even in favour of the idea of naming July 4 Independents Day, rather than Thanksgiving.

Thoughts on Old Media

April 8, 2008

Every now and again, I see something about how old physical media, such as paper, will outlast newer media, such as the disc that this post will be stored on. There was such an article in yesterday’s Boston Globe.

The confusing thing is that digital memory offers the illusion of permanence. Even when people would like to see a file disappear, for instance, delete just doesn’t seem to last forever – whether it is on social networks like Facebook, or e-mails or text messages that surface years later.

The article refers to services to convert analog music to digital. I shed my last vinyl records the last time I moved, a few years ago. Next time I move, it’ll be time to shed my cassette tapes.

The ones I took care to keep during the last move are the tapes of Richard Thompson live shows. Perhaps I should convert them to digital. But I haven’t played them in years, and I can probably find the same or similar stuff on the web.

By the way, I read the Globe article on paper, and I paid money for it. And some of you were thinking that owning cassette tapes marked me as a dinosaur…

Looking at the Boston Globe online today, we see a link to an Anti label digital sampler. The remarkable thing is that the web page we arrive at contains a real live link. It’s good to see a sign that someone at the Globe understands these interweb tubes.

The link goes to the blog for the record label Anti, where a 16-track sampler is available for download. There’s Billy Bragg, Bob Mould, Devotchka, lots of good stuff (encoded at 128kbps, which won’t be hifi enough for some people).

If you’re interested in contrasting media coverage, horrific late-night bloodbaths, or reasons to read the Boston Herald, take a look at Universal Adam’s case for a two-newspaper town. Adams’ contrast between the Globe and the Herald is as vivid as… the Herald’s coverage of a bar where “it’s always past midnight.”

If you want to see a clumsier contrast involving two newspapers, go to New York: If Facebook is the New York Times, then myspace is the NY Post. Facebook is less like the NYT than it is like… I don’t know, a gooseberry. At least a gooseberry is bubble-shaped. (By the way, Fred Wilson usually writes rather well; that was his brain on Murdoch.)

Old Media Slideshows

December 16, 2007

Today’s Boston Globe includes its critic’s picks of 2007. I went straight to the albums of the year lists. There’s a list by each critic. Unfortunately, one the web each list is presented as a slideshow, rather than as a page I can just cast an eye down.

This is silly, in exactly the same way that the Business Week Online books of the year list is silly. When old media uses the web like this, it reminds me of how my students sometimes want to use PowerPoint: it’s more about “cool” features than it is about clear communication.

This isn’t just me being grumpy. If it was, I’d criticize the Globe for using CD rather than, say, album: one of the best albums of 2007 won’t be out on CD until 2008. And I’d be inclined to complain about the omission of my album of the year: but since the format of the Globe’s lists doesn’t allow me a quick scan, that inclination is rather slight.