WoMag as an excuse to think about websites

posted by Mike on June 1st, 2006

Some weeks Worcester Magazine makes such strides at transcending print that I don’t even italicize their name.

But this week, there was a lot of backsliding in regards to both paper and pixels.

Grabbing WoMag out of a newsrack on Main St, the first thing I noticed is how thin it’s getting. It’s about the size of the free weekly in Scranton.

The second thing I noticed: no Blog Log! To get the impact of this, you should know that WoMag’s website is totally 20th-century. No comments on articles, no permalinks to items in “Worcesteria.” Finding things in the archives is a chore. They could install WordPress and have an intern spend two hours each Wednesday cutting and pasting text, and they’d have a hipper website without spending a dime. So for WoMag, the Blog Log was their big connection to that Great Future Home of Journalism, the Internet. But this week, even the print-only InCity Times, with piles of URLs in the articles, was more net-friendly than WoMag.

Finally, they ran Zippy real small, in a box amidst the classifieds. If you’re willing to let the Pinhead spread out, he comes out so much better in print than on the screen.

Today I was telling NB about the newsblog h2otown, which seems to rule over the media landscape of little Watertown, Mass. She asked why Worcester Indymedia couldn’t accomplish something similar. I think it’s because the IMC site is run on sf-active, which makes contribution, adminstration, and navigation much harder than they need to be. I’m much happier blogging about the Golden Pizza fire on the obscure Pie and Coffee than on Worcester IMC, because it takes so damn long to post and moderate the article on IMC. IMC has many more readers, but for a minor post like this the effort is not worth it.

Weeks like this, I feel sure some entrepreneur will step in to rescue Worcester from the journalistic doldrums. It never happens. I guess I’m out of touch.

You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

One Comment Leave a comment.

  1. On June 6, 2006 at 23:24 Lisa Williams said:

    Yep! I bestride it like a colossus ;->. Well, not really. The fact is, H2otown costs me a whopping $40 a month to run, and Google ads cover the costs of the site and my Starbucks tab.

    Why don’t more traditional media organizations do what I’m doing? Well, to be fair, some are; Boston.com now has 27 blogs; NECN has user submitted content, and it seems like every local TV affiliate has some way for us Great Unwashed to send in cellphone camera snaps.

    I’m not really sure why relatively few online sites of print media allow “user generated content” (what a terribly unlovely term). My guess is that it cost them a lot of money to buy the software, install, and customize what they use for their current website, and whatever software they use doesn’t really have community features. So they either install something separate and unintegrated or wait for their vendor to get around to developing stuff.

    Plus, unlike independents, they’re more conservative because they’ve got something to lose. Independents tend to just try setting up a metroblog as an experiment and see if it flies. This is where obscurity helps in the beginning — you’re allowed to make your mistakes with few people watching. Newspapers and magazines generally don’t have that luxury.

    So I think my answer is, you don’t have to wait for anyone else to do it; you could do it yourself, now, very cheaply, if you wanted to try it.

Leave a comment