Friday, February 6, 2009

The best newspaper websites are probably not the best news sites

What's wrong with this picture? No, not the one on the right. What's wrong with the fact that the NewspaperProject.org -- they of the Super Bowl-related ad proclaiming the greatness of newspapers -- today touted a summary of the Top Ten Best Newspaper Websites?

Answer: It's great that the creators of this list (Internet strategists The Bivings Group) are finding good stuff at newspaper websites. But it would have been a lot more helpful to the news business if they'd created a list of the Top Ten Best Sites Delivering News.

Draft that second list, and you'll find a lot of great insights about how to do news online.

But draft only the first list, and all you're going to see are what newspapers are doing online. This is a flawed data sample. Not just because newspapers aren't the only ones doing news online. But because newspapers actually bring biases to their work that probably both get in the way of finding the best possible ways of doing news online and that also lead them to create things that might look good to newspaper folks, but probably are orthagonal to what readers actually value.

This isn't to say that newspapers aren't doing good stuff online. It's just to say that:

If you want to find the future, you first have to get out of the box.

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