I was quite disappointed recently to read this notice on the front page of the Yukon News’ web site:
This is an abbreviated version of today’s Yukon News, available on newsstands now. Check back in a week to view all of the stories in this issue.
Besides being grammatically incorrect (the correct word would have been “abridged” rather than “abbreviated”) it signals a step backwards in the attitude of Yukon’s largest news publisher. It was only a few weeks ago that the News went online for the first time in their existence, and at that date they were already late to the party. (I should note at this point that the News publishes my weekly column, Geek Love.)
At that initial launch, the News published their entire day’s paper on the web. Now they’ve backtracked and are delaying the posting of current news. It’s unfortunate because with this move they’ve effectively transformed their online presence from a news to an archive service.
Clearly, however, the News is not alone in its struggle to comprehend the business and publishing opportunities that the internet offers.
Over the past week, old media signalled its intention to run in two different directions as two separate major UK newspapers took two decidedly opposite approaches to online publishing. The Guardian is going “web first” whilst the Telegraph is going, like the Yukon News, “web last“.
In the case of the Telegraph, it’s an effort to boost print sales and, presumably it’s the same for the News.
The way print publishers cling to their old information delivery format is sort of sad, really. After all, newspaper printing is insanely damaging to the environment and for no better reason than the publishers are apprehensive and probably ignorant as to how best embrace a bold and potentially lucrative new spectrum of publishing options.
It seems that too many publishers still consider the internet an afterthought, an appendage to their traditional format. In fact internet publishing represents printing’s replacement. “Online” needs to become an inherent component of a publishing company’s business plan with a income/expense structure tied to the company’s as a whole. And a publishing company needs to fully embrace the online publishing mentality. Half measures won’t do it for, as the News’ retraction of its online commitment demonstrates, it’s otherwise a case of why bother at all?
I don’t know if the News realistically expects users to return to their site seven days hence to read the history of last week. The impoverished eat stale bread and only truly starved information junkies will bother with the News‘ site anymore.