David Szpunar: Lead Engineer, PC Help Services

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December 4th, 2007 at 2:19 pm Print This Post Print This Post

Stupid Newspaper Websites

in: Rants

Allow me to rant for a moment, if you will. I’m not forcing you to read it or anything…

Why is it that newspapers, when they design their websites, seem to forget that they are making the site available to a worldwide audience? I see it all the time: read Google News, or a blog entry, or some other source with a link to a newspaper story. Click. The newspaper has the name of the paper, often with the city name, plastered in about fifty places, and that’s just “above the fold”! But do they bother to put the state or any other identifying information somewhere? Not usually on the same page, or the home page. If you hunt around, sometimes you’ll find a Contact page or something that might list even a full [gasp] mailing address! Is it too much to ask that you list the full city and state where the paper is located somewhere on every page of the site? Or even just the homepage?

The latest example, and the one that set off this rant, is this story here, in the Holland Sentinal. One of my new favorite humor blogs, The “Blog” of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks, mentioned that the blog was covered in that article in the Holland Sentinel. I clicked through and the article says,

This sign is one of the many signs guilty of what Holland native Bethany Keeley calls “unnecessary” quotation marks.

So yes, it says blogger Bethany is a “Holland native.” So what. I’ve been to Holland twice, and it’s pretty long flight from here, and if that’s where she and the paper are from, there would be a lot more Dutch mixed in on her posts! (And as a side note, “Holland” is actually just a part of the Netherlands, but it is used informally to refer to all of the Netherlands by outsiders. You can read about it on Wikipedia, but having been there, I’ll vouch for the article’s accuracy on that point :-)  But Wikipedia also disambiguates Holland, and shows that there are at least seventeen states with cities having the name “Holland” in them just in the United States! Yeah, that makes it perfectly obvious where the “Holland Sentinel” newspaper is based. Well, it does once you visit their Contact page. Oh well.

Anyway. The article itself is good, and mentions that the blog was covered recently in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Chicago Tribune, which is pretty hefty exposure for a humor blog! I’m certainly enjoying it. The blog is great,  and so is the article about it, it’s the newspaper’s website I have an issue with! Identify yourself fully, you geographically-oriented entities with cyber-presences!

End rant. If you made it this far…sorry :-)