“I’m simply fed up with online news sites that provide more clutter and distractions than real content. They load slowly to boot.”
That’s the sentiment of Rick Smith, the techwire editor of WRAL in Raleigh, N.C. Smith came to this conclusion after analyzing news coverage of the recent election cycle. What he found was a dearth of deep, thoughtful analysis in digital form.
Smith explains that “two days after the Nov. 8 elections, I confess that I bought two hard copies of national finger-staining newspapers. Not to commemorate the results of a stunning election but to find in-depth analysis of what the heck happened – and why. The papers (chosen after careful review) were straightforward, nicely packaged, illustrated, packed with graphics and easy to read (except for ‘jumps’ from one page to another). I later bought two splendid post-election magazines for the same basic reasons.”
Smith is no troglodyte when it comes to the Internet; he is a seasoned online editor and author of a book about the strategic benefits of the Web. Yet he’s decided the time has come to subscribe to a national print newspaper and a national news magazine again, after many years of digital news consumption.
“At too many sites the search for dollars has led to shrinking news hole – to use an old newspaper term – i.e., the space devoted to the screen for content. At some destinations you must work your way through ads, photos and videos just about every other paragraph to read the story that drew you to the site,” Smith explains.
“I’m simply fed up with online news sites that provide more clutter and distractions than real content. They load slowly to boot,” he asserts. He also makes the point that, given the open access to commenting on new stories, what was once assigned to the Op-Ed page is now a ubiquitous part of the news feed itself, politicizing everything and making an educated and unbiased experience nearly impossible.
Perhaps, as Smith notes, we can find “hope in the impossible” by turning back to printed news sources for that in-depth, considered reporting to replace the breathless sound-bite nature of digital news.