Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Speaking of a redesign...

The Saratogian, which for many years has kept the same boring Web format, has made some updates to their online addition. Unfortunately, many of these changes seem aesthetic at best, with the trademark royal blue bordering used by many Journal Register Company publications being switched to a darker hue. Also, it appears as though some of the content may have been shifted a bit, although this change is a bit subtler.

To usher in this new design, the editors on Lake Avenue have apparently decided it would be best to simply not post any of the local content in today’s paper, something that has become a recent trend as of late for the small-and-growing-smaller paper.

Once, there was a time when the Saratogian aggressively tackled the challenges presented by the World Wide Web, even presenting a better package than many other regional papers of larger circulations. Daily photos and column mugs were uploaded, in addition to a “Web Mail Bag” and generous amount of local content.

But in the past five years, the competition, for the most part, has outpaced Saratoga County's so-called hometown paper. The Post Star switched from a pay-subscription format (akin to The Daily Gazette) to a limited Web content page, and finally to a limited Web site with frequent updates and “online special” articles. Likewise, The Times Union has aggressively tried to keep pace with television news crews, sometimes posting articles even before the Capital News 9 van can roll up on the scene. Editors at the TU have also launched an online appeal to Web readers to get their comments about the direction of the paper.

But as the Internet balloons and other papers grapple with how to meet the challenge of waning circulation coupled with declining advertisement, The Saratogian appears to have tossed in the towel, with nearly all of their initial online amenities trimmed from the site, save for a smattering of local news and a new feature boasting "top read articles."

Using an analogy, the advent of the Web was akin to unexpectedly shoving all print news agencies out of a soaring plane, each with a parachute; some have since learned where the ripcord is and are trying to pull it, while others continue to watch agape as the ground comes perilously closer. And after taking a good feel around, it seems as though The Saratogian has given up the search and is instead focusing on how the once little trees are seeming remarkably larger.

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