Monday, September 14, 2009

How not to launch a web news service

This morning Fairfax launched its new National Times online content - fairly rapidly conceived I think and probably a response to News Ltd's The Punch.

I really only realised that today was the launch day because Breakfast PoliticsM linked to a few stories from it. While I scanned the stories by K Rudd and M Turnbull, I closed them before I thought I'd have a look at the whole site.

So I googled "National Times" - interestingly the first items listed were all about the relaunch but not to the service. Even more strangely there wasn't even a sponsored ad link to it.

The online story on one Fairfax online site included the URL, but not as a hyperlink. There was one small ad on the SMH home page, but over the fold - and it linked to a static ad.

Anyhow, I finally found my way to the site. Not very impressed really with day one! Most importantly it doesn't look at all like a relaunched masthead - it is an amalgam of the content of The Age, The SMH and the two online services WAtoday and brisbanetimes. If I were Fairfax journalists I'd see this as the first sign that the move is definitely on to convert the existing two broadsheets to one national newspaper.

I'm not impressed so far with The Punch either. Though there is an interesting minor distinction - The Punch has a set of links headed "Opinion from Everywhere" that includes as its first link today the PMs contribution to The National Times. Meanwhile The National Times equivalent is labelled "Global Opinion".

I have to say I'm also disappointedthat The National Times gives you the opportunity to sign up for a daily newsletter but to do so you have to become a "Fairfax Digital" member. So terribly old school. The Punch has a similar service that asks for the e-mail address first then draws the user through the rest of the registration process - much more user friendly.

I wonder who will join me in relaunching the masthead of Nation Review online?

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