Update 10 Aug: Perhaps I was a little hard on the N&O. I’m giving it a chance.
What’s everyone talking about today? Spinach, that’s what. N&O Executive Editor John Drescher compared “obligatory” stories about government process to spinach and apparently our spinach days are over. Instead, the paper is apparently now all about chasing clicks.
And local voices don’t matter anymore, apparently, so away with the metro columnists, Barry Saunders and the like. Quirky cat stories will now rule the day. I’m left with the impression that local matters – the stuff where a local newspaper shines like none other – will no longer be a priority for the N&O. If it doesn’t have national appeal it’s gone.
Can I be honest here? I hate, hate, hate the N&O’s new clickbait headlines (and yes, John, no matter how hard you go lipstickin’ this pig these headlines are absolutely clickbait). This is one step away from putting emojis and text shortcuts in headlines (“Y U NO PASS BUDGET, COUNCIL? LOL”). My intelligence is insulted every time I see one. In fact, I make it a point not to click on any story with an asinine headlines. Nothing good is ever behind a clickbait headline.
The N&O website is also bogged down by the worst pop-up advertising you’ll find on the web, here or anywhere else. While some of my media pals might look down on my use of ad blocking software, I would not need it if sites like the N&O weren’t full of exploding ads and self-playing videos. There are rules of decorum on the web and assaulting your web visitors has always been frowned upon, no matter how lucrative it might seem.
Last week I got notice that my N&O subscription is due for renewal. The notice is still sitting on my desk. I am torn between my fervent desire to support serious, take-no-prisoners journalism and my growing realization that the News and Observer no longer supplies it. I don’t want to hurt the newspaper but I also don’t want to reward its retreat.
We’ve fed you some spinach over the years — undercooked and not tasty. “Spinach” is what we sometimes call the obligatory stories about government process, as we dutifully report incremental changes recommended by a subcommittee of a blue-ribbon panel.
Enough with the spinach. Starting this week, we’ll be working harder to answer your questions and present the news in a way that is more relevant, with more video and more focus on topics that we know you care about.When most of our readership was of the print paper, we never knew with precision how much each story was read. Now we know how much digital readership each story has, and we’ve used that as a guide for which stories we will cover.
While measuring readership is important to us, it’s not the only factor we’ll consider when deciding what to cover.
For the record, my wife prefers her spinach lightly cooked (some would say undercooked) while I prefer it on the slimy side. 🙂