Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Sour Milk: The Nola.com Experience - June 12, 2012

My wife and I decided that if The Times-Picayune owners thought we didn't need the paper four days of the week, we probably didn't need it the other three and canceled our subscription. One regular feature of MySpiltMilk.com (which will be live tomorrow) is going to be documenting my efforts to stay informed through Nola.com. Today's post has a particularly painful backdrop as T-P staffers are learning their fates today. As of this point in the writing, I know that news writer Danny Monteverde won't be a part of the grand online experiment. 

On my iPhone, the top stories at 8:40 a.m. are an editorial suggesting that City Council put charter changes on the ballot and move on. News leads with Jefferson Parish school system's regional parent group on the way, the charter editorial, and a story about a visiting pet program orientation on Saturday. There's weather and entertainment news - local actors and artists pay tribute to the late Ray Bradbury, the story behind Chakula cha Jua's new one many play, and Bieber fever in Mexico City. I have to click to see more. Doug MacCash is a friend, so I click on the companion piece to his cha Jua story, a video of the playwright walking in his neighborhood - or so I gather from the headline. The video player doesn't show up on my phone. Additional entertainment news includes a Joy Behar story, the That's My Boy trailer, a David Arquette story, the Percy Jackson sequel will shoot in New Orleans, Gerard Butler will shoot in Shreveport, and a recap of the season opener for True Blood. I don't get Behar, Bieber or Arquette on a pared-down version of the website, but otherwise, good enough.

Following the News link, I find stories on the Algiers Charter Schools association making changes, the Jeff Parish school system story, the City Council editorial, the pet program story, an obituary, an op-ed piece from Stephanie Grace, a BP-related editorial, an anti-bullying session at a library, a judge voids a death sentence for an inmate convicted of a 1995 triple murder, and Jeff Parish school officials' plan to deal with the system's deficit. Based on Nola.com's smart phone presence, I can't even guess at what today's top story is, though I'd think the voided death sentence might be more significant that the pet program and the bullying story for starters.

The Nola.com app includes "Headlines" and "Top Stories" as menu options, so maybe I'll get a more coherent overview of the news there. Headlines: Tangipahoa Parish introduces oil, gas drilling, the Algiers charter school association changes, the Jeff Parish school system's parent ... thing (I can't summarize this one based on the headline), the City Council editorial, the pet program, the obituary, Grace's op-ed, and so on. This appears to more or less follow the news flow at Nola.mobi, and thankfully buried is the story of the dismembered woman, whose friends say she was a "good mom." Is that really a story? What else are they going to say? Also buried because it went online at 6:45 a.m. is the story of mosquitoes being out in record number, which seems more newsworthy to me.

"Top Stories" still follows a chronological order, though there seems to be some decision-making going on regarding what appears. I thought it might be shaped by the number of comments, but no comments - a strong plus for the Nola.com app. (Speaking of - how can Nola.com plan to be a website for the city when its commenters keep the air of racism palpable?) 

Finally, a visit to Nola.com, where for the first time I learn that the Hornets turned down a trade offer from the Cavs. The reassignment of Marlin Gusman is a fixture at the top of the page along with the story about the dismembered good mom (where the comments stream took a strongly moralistic turn). Below that: "Gov. Bobby Jindal has vetoed 12 bills so far this session," "Keep bugs at bay as metro New Orleans gets more rain: An editorial" and "In New Orleans, not even little girls are safe from violence" by Jarvis DeBerry, followed by stories I saw on the app and the mobi site.

To be fair, the news looks a lot more like the news at 8:40 than it did when I first looked at 6:45 this morning. Early risers may be facing mundane mornings if they try to read Nola.com with the morning coffee. Also, like the AnnArbor.com site, there is a menu of top stories in each section at the foot of the page. You've got to scroll to get to it, but you can see more of the stories without having to click into the menu bars at the top of the page. Still, the chronological news feed dominates the home page, forcing readers to work around the home page for a more focused presentation of the news. 

Finally, if people want to stop the proposed three-days-a -week printing schedule, someone's going to have to protest. Employees at the paper have said they don't want it, we don't want it, and advertisers have now said that they don't want it. But if we all keep our anger and frustration between ourselves, nothing will change the plans. Polite gatherings don't make the same statement as a big group more interested in results than commiseration. Since I started writing, Brett Anderson announced on Twitter that he's been let go.


3 comments:

Jenefer Maron said...

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