Monday, April 03, 2006

The Gray Lady Gets A Makeover


I read The New York Times. Despite the black eyes it has gotten and the trouble it has brought on itself in the past few years, it's still a damn good newspaper. I usually buy it at the Stop-And-Rob so I can do the crossword puzzle, but lately I've been getting my news fix from the online version.

Today I go there and experience its new look for the first time, and I am dismayed. It doesn't look like The New York Times anymore. It looks like....well, it looks like every other news site now. Why'd they change the headline font? That reassuring, staid and traditional type that told you that you were reading a serious newspaper, dammit, not Yahoo! news or Gawker.

And now they display only the first sentence, or a portion thereof, of the lede, because they've decided to cram a video link on their front page. Guys, y'all ain't YouTube! I don't need video from The New York Times! I need NEWS.

The editors note about the redesign says:
We also wanted to give our readers a greater voice and sprinkle a little more serendipity around the site by providing prominent links to a list of most e-mailed and blogged articles, most searched for information and popular movies. A new tab at the top of the page takes you directly to all our most popular features.
Huh? "Serendipity"? For serendipity, I have MetaFilter and Digg and Fark and Newsvine. And I don't want the readers to have a voice. We have the rest of the freaking internet for the readers to spout off in! I want serious journalists telling me what they think the important stuff is and why. That's the point of a newspaper, right? The editor goes on to crow about a new toy they are rolling out called MyTimes. I'll let you gues what that is. That's right, our nation's paper of record now wants to be Yahoo!

I don't think that allowing people to self-select the news they want to see is a particularly innovative or positive development. Nor is it new, but that's not the point. Part of the joy of a newspaper is that I might go looking for a story about, oh, I don't know, the war in Iraq, and end up reading an article on the Egyptian economy, or Chinese pollution control. What's that called? Oh yeah, serendipity. Which will be gone when I just click to my page that has only the news I pre-select, which is an insane idea to begin with.

I'll get used to the new design, and I'll probably even find stuff about it that I like. But please guys give me my headline font back. Maintain some sense of identity.

The grumpy critics at MetaFilter mouth off about this topic here.

1 comment:

Blue Gal said...

Great post. Intelligence on parade, BOP!