The Cyberbrains

Research and contemplation in new media

Front page news on Cold Pizza

Just a quick hit after suffering through an hour … OK, 30 minutes … of Cold Pizzhans-mug.jpga, er ESPN First Take, while exercising at the gym. Just five minutes of watching Patrick MacEnroe and Skip Bayless debate Bayless’ “mancrush” on David Beckham almost forced me to turn to something less objectionable, like rap videos on MTV. But I stuck with it hoping to catch up on some sports headlines. I was shocked, confused, and a bit dismayed when the show went positively old school to show them.

Correspondent Sage Steele (great TV name, BTW) eagerly told viewers what appeared on the sports front pages of the nation’s newspapers that morning. As a news junkie, I found the segment mildly interesting, but I had to wonder what the typical sports fan watching a recap show between 10 a.m. and noon would think. Would they even care one iota what the Cleveland Plain Dealer had to say about LeBron’s playoff struggles? Let me rephrase that. While they might care about reading the newspaper’s take, would they care what it looked like?

(BTW, I hesitate to include the Plain Dealer link because it probably won’t work. I had to navigate through a million different survey pages just to get there.)

I have wondered why newspapers are so enamored of their front page designs they religiously try to translate them to the Web since the chain I worked contracted with Olive Software, to make the entire newspaper available online as a PDF. I think Freedom’s efforts eventually fizzled, but scads of papers still make their A1s available online. (To see what I’m talking about, check out Poynter’s Page One Today, a clean front page display service that actually makes some sense by considering its audience.)

Some misspent nostalgia might steer longtime readers toward calling up a front page PDF, but in all, I think this represents another misguided attempt to shoehorn the Web into a newspaper’s traditional way of looking at news presentation. Divorce yourselves from the static front page, news organizations, and accept the interactive possibilities of the Web. If you don’t, you’ll end up as clunky as irrelevant as a show that used to be named after the breakfast of the hungover.

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June 14, 2007 - Posted by | Hans Meyer

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