Yukon News: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

Delivering the Yukon News?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.

4 thoughts on “Yukon News: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

  1. The ‘News has been operating since 1965. They’ve had 3 websites, this one being the most comprehensive and feature-packed yet. It’s also less than 3 months old.

    Big changes like you’re talking about takes time, and they’re taking steps to do so. Baby steps, but steps nonetheless.

    It can’t happen overnight. Patience my friend, patience.

  2. Keep in mind that the Yukon News isn’t selling news or even newspapers for that matter. They are selling an audience to advertisers, and right now you can’t sell on-line ads at .90/agate line. Until that changes they have no business reason to change their delivery model.

  3. Sorry guys, I find that both of your News-defensive comments carry the whiff of cop-out and both really make my point: if the News can’t commit to the web with a cohesive and strategic business plan, why bother at all?

    I’m irked, mainly, by the fact that they went online with up-to-date news, then within weeks, pulled back. They instantly made their brand spankin’ new web site borderline irrelevant.

    It’s like a pot-bellied old man who’s been sitting on the beach for hours, wondering about the water. He decides to wade in, but upon his toes touching the tide he finds it too cold (maybe it’s not, though, there are plenty of other bathers out there enjoying the swim). Dude, why are you even at the beach? Go home!

    To me it signals that the News really has no plan or strategy in place in regards to how they’re approaching the web. They’re making it up as they go along, unsure of how to leverage the medium effectively and make some money.

    And to try and relate the “agate line” (whatever that it) to web is just silly. But it’s the typical old media response to the problem: how do we cast this new medium in our image? Well, you don’t. The web is a totally different medium psychologically, emotionally, intellectually, economically and experientially.

    This is what I’m saying: you can either embrace web, or you can walk away. If there’s no business model, or if you insist on basing your business model on out-moded concepts, then you may as well just not bother, because it won’t work and you’ll just spin your wheels.

    But if you’re willing to invest some open-minded time, energy, and money into this new medium, which is totally different than the old, then get in there and swim. The water’s awesome.

  4. Ah, to be privy to what actually happened with that initial launch/full news that you allude to. Here’s the truth.

    The site’s administration system is designed to allow all news to be added to the databases ahead of time. A certain number of articles can be flagged as publish now, and others to be published later.

    There was a bug in the script that pushed all articles from certain issues live – something that got missed in testing – and we didn’t discover this until a few weeks later. Sorry, it was not some sort of half-baked plan on the ‘News part.

    They’re embracing the web, in fact, there’s stuff coming down the pipe that will surprise and excite you. Features and enhancements that will demonstrate some forward-thinking people are behind the wheel after all.

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