Thursday, August 14, 2003

The Globe's confusing new website. Is it too soon to say that the redesign of the Globe's website is seriously flawed? After all, these things do take time. So far, though, not so good.

Aside from the look -- pinched and cluttered, with teeny type -- I'm having a hard time figuring out what the mission is. Ideally, you'd like to see the entire paper put online in a well-organized manner, with perhaps a few extras. But given that people at the Globe, like everyone else, are presumably questioning the practice of giving away their content online while watching their paid circulation fall, maybe they're trying to move away from that. Still, what they're moving toward is anything but clear.

Two observations this morning:

1. As a paid subscriber who receives the North Pole edition somewhere around 5:30 a.m., I often don't get late results when the Red Sox are on the West Coast. So I went to the online sports section a few moments ago and saw this hype: "A's 5, Red Sox 3: Red Sox stuck in reverse." But that wasn't last night's game; it was Tuesday night's game.

I backed up and clicked on "All of today's Sports stories," only to find the tertiary stuff that no one reads anyway. Finally, I backed up again, clicked on "Latest sports news," and found an AP story reporting that Derek Lowe and the Sox beat the A's, 7-3, last night.

Okay, that's better than nothing, but still not good enough. Presumably the late edition of the Globe has staff coverage of the game. But even though I'm a paying customer, I can't read that coverage online.

But wait! I just went to, the übersite that's separate (but not really) from the Globe's, and the lead story was a staff-written (by Bob Hohler) piece on last night's Sox win. So why couldn't I find it in the Globe's own online sports section? Pre-emptive defense: if it's there and I just missed it, well, believe me, I looked. This is supposed to be easy, right?

2. If you click on "All of today's Editorials and Op-Ed columns," you will get exactly what you're promised. There's also an improvement over the old site: an editorial cartoon by Dan Wasserman. But it's yesterday's. Again, the Globe is under no obligation to give away its content, but the concept of publishing the day's paper on the Web is being lost.

Am I being too harsh? Hah! On Monday, Jason Feifer (scroll down) wrote to Jim Romenesko's that "the paper's website has morphed from a user-friendly digital facsimile of a newspaper into something resembling the love child of Google news and a content-free blog."

Then again, Feifer also doesn't like the print edition's new pastel teaser boxes on page one, an innovation that has given Media Log a reason to get up in the morning. So maybe he's being unfair.

But the Globe Web folks, having set out to fix what wasn't necessarily broken, need to do some quick thinking. They could start by explaining exactly what it is they're trying to accomplish.

New in this week's Phoenix. I consider the career of Massachusetts House Speaker Tom Finneran, who's not looking quite as powerful these days thanks to the rise of Governor Mitt Romney and a small but growing rebellion in his own chamber.

Plus, an update of Tuesday's Media Log item on the suspension of John "Ozone" Osterlind, the morning-drive-time host on WRKO Radio (AM 680) accused of wanting to "eradicate" the Palestinians.

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