Tag Archives: boston globe

Boston Globe Lab is full of ideas. Great, now where do they fit in a newsroom?

Chris Marstall in front of the picture map at the Globe Lab.

The newspapers still (relatively) flush with money should do the right thing and invest in researching how people, and their readers, use technology. Thankfully, the Boston Globe isn’t sitting on its hands. It’s invested in a good-looking lab that features a raft of interesting technology.

The Globe has the right to feel it’s ahead of the curve, technologically speaking. BostonGlobe.com is a nice site, even if it’s under a dreaded paywall. It was also honored with an award from the Society for News Design that basically equates to “Best Damn News Website – Period,” thanks to a responsive design setup. They also won kudos for their fancy way of integrating maps and data into the site, such as that used in their feature about mislabeled fish that Design Director Miranda Mulligan was eager to show off. It’s clever stuff.

The Lab’s other tech serves as a cool way to monitor what readers are doing. Joel Abrams was keen to show off a clever way of mapping tweets and showing how sharing links among users can really take off. Chris Marstall liked to show off a set of screens that maps Instagrams taken by people around Boston.

But where does all of this fit into the newspaper’s business of reporting? Their ability to answer that question was pretty much summarized by a trio of TV screens in the newsroom that monitored tweets and replies to the paper’s handles. Slowly, different forms of technology are working their way into the newsroom. But it looks like it’s going to be some time before all of the interesting mapping and social media analysis is going to make it into the newsgathering process, and that’s a shame.

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Old habits die hard

Here’s the news peg: The Boston Globe this morning announced something that sounds much more interesting than it actually is. Their new ePaper sounds like the best of both worlds, seeing the print version the same way on your iPad as in your hands as a newspaper.

To be fair, if I were still working for a newspaper, I’d love this announcement. The time and energy and sweat I’ve spent laying out pages, only to have Quark XPress self-destruct before you’ve hit save, is essentially vindicated now that my blood and tears are now available for the anti-print crowd to see on their techie devices. And I understand there is a market for such things as the ePaper, especially at publications that treat their website and Internet presence as an afterthought.

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Paywalls Closing In on Me

When did reading newspapers online become an expensive hobby? I can understand car collecting, sailing, diving for buried treasure. But reading op-eds in the comfort of your own couch on your iPad? (And, for the record, an iPad isn’t that cheap either.) On my college student budget, I can’t afford to subscribe to everything I want and that’s making for some tough choices.

My reading habits are about to get more expensive now that the Los Angeles Times has joined the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Boston Globe in the club of big newspapers that ask readers to pony up to read online content. Some are digging that grave for newspapers while they rapidly blog. Others are biting their nails to see whether the LA Times, still the fifth-highest circulated paper in the country, can stop its readership slide. I’m wondering how much I can afford.

When The New York Times put up its paywall last year, I hemmed and hawed for a month before breaking down and pulling out the credit card. Ironically, since I’ve been paying about $8 a month to read nytimes.com on my computer (via their temperamental Chrome app) I don’t think I’ve actually used all of my 20 clicks a month, ones that would be free if I didn’t subscribe. It’s just too easy to get around the paywall since a lot of what I click on comes from social media platforms or Google News.

The Globe’s policy is too cheap to give you any free clicks per month, so you think I’d have given into their paywall by now. Trouble is, the things I actually want to read from the Globe are free on Boston.com. It’s a similar story at the Wall Street Journal. Although I used to regard a WSJ online subscription like a rare commodity, (I used the password from a previous employer for as long as I could) it’s easy enough to find what I want for free. As long as they don’t put Dan Neil behind the paywall, I’ll be a happy camper.

Unfortunately, the LA Times plans to hide their auto critic, Dave Undercoffler, behind the wall – and a lot of other great writers too. They’re only giving out 15 free clicks a month before asking for about $2 a week to read everything. I’m conflicted because while I much prefer the NYT for DC and other national stories, they can’t do California news well. And, more emotionally, I grew up reading the LA Times. I have a devotion to it similar to that of Bostonians to the Globe, which is why they’re willing to subscribe online when I can’t bring myself to.

I tweeted yesterday that buying an LATimes.com subscription might come at the expense of an NYTimes.com one, something of a “Sophie’s Choice” decision to me. James Cobb, the NYT auto editor, tweeted back and said, ” But Sophie would never turn against her Old Gray Lady…” He’s right. I should just pick up the damn paper again.

Photo: Flickr/JoeinSouthernCA

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