Tribune Goes News-Weak on Web

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(Photo: Back then they managed to build this building and fund a newspaper without the help of massively annoying web ads.)

What on earth is Bill Adee thinking? The Chicago Tribune’s associate managing editor in charge of online operations announced today yet another slew of changes for the paper’s website. If anyone misses 1990s-era websites, have no fear: the Trib has your back with these changes. From a clunky Times font and a space-wasting blocky layout, to big, ugly ads and ad boxes intruding in places they shouldn’t, the new Trib sites has it all…except news, that is.

According to Adee, these are “nuanced” changes. Hmm. When I first clicked on the new site, I actually thought the Trib was having a server meltdown. It took me a few seconds to realize this was the look they were going for. Judging by the prominence of ads versus news items, that look seems to be “cash desperate blogger”, not nationally prominent newspaper.

How prominent are those ads, you may ask? Below the “fold”, news items get a single, inch-wide column, while ads, ad-driven videos, and paid content suck up the rest of the real estate.

That doesn’t sound like a subtle change to me.

First they shut down their comment boards on all political articles, then they fire Trib Interactive chief Tim Landon. Now we get another newly retooled website with a look that screams rushed out, not carefully considered. Well, considered by the accountants, surely, but certainly not by users. These are, of course, the same users who could just as easily visit the Sun-Times homepage, which even the most casual visitor will notice is given almost entirely over to (wait for it) news. Imagine that.

How many Tribune executives does it take to realize that what web readers want is RSS feeds for Schmich and Zorn, not ad fatigue? Hoarding your star columnists content from RSS news readers to try and drive visitors to the Tribune webpage is annoying, not endearing.

Much like this news-weak Tribune homepage tweak.

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