Id this is what it takes to save journalism, then let it die


But serving up fewer ads per page doesn’t mean serving up fewer ads per visit if sites are redesigned to increase page views. But first we need to change the current paradigm:

2. Create a next-generation homepage. Too many users visit the homepage – then exit – before viewing interior pages because the homepage meets their information needs. And webmasters put too many ads on homepages in hopes of reaching these endusers.

This is a self-defeating strategy that pits advertisers against each other and creates a chaotic environment for endusers.

To increase page views, homepages should be redesigned to be less comprehensive. Homepages should provide a “taste” of a site’s content, rather than a satisfying meal, like this or this.

This strategy will force users to visit interior pages to meet their information needs.

Uh, excuse me? You can’t force users on the web to do anything. Most likely you don’t have a monopoly on the news in question, and people will simply go somewhere else with a less user-hostile design. (Maybe someday browsers will load typical graphics-heavy pages fast enough not to interrupt your train of thought, even on a phone or a netbook, but don’t bet your business on it.) And if you do have a monopoly, and people really can’t live without that information, they’ll just resent you and your advertisers and switch to an alternative as soon as it arrives — say an open-source applet that scrapes your pages and delivers the same information automatically.

This site actually has a lot of thought-provoking stuff, but mostly it fails to confront the problem that advertising is a really lousy way to deliver journalism. All the other ways may be worse, but that’s no reason to go out and embrace the idea (especially for local publications) that people with a strong economic interest in limiting information flow get to decide on a page-by-page basis what supposedly accurate reporting they will pay for ordinary individuals to see. (Of course, a lot of this depends on the power relations between advertiser and content provider — if the advertisers can’t get eyes to their stuff any other way, the publisher has a fair amount of power. But since search engines exist, that argument only goes so far.)


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