The company launched its new Web site for the Saratogian early Friday, officially making their already diluted content even more difficult to navigate. In a prelude to this morning’s launch, the paper included a short missive to their online readers to alert them of the abrupt changes. Of course, this missive ended up buried beneath a difficult-to-navigate mash of this week’s news, several community notes and the rest of the cyber-disaster now occupying the online addition.
“Please bear with us as we implement all the changes we’re putting in place,” states the missive. “It will take some time before all the bugs are worked out.”
Take some time? Well, how goddamn long? The Saratogian is still trying to work out “the bugs” from their first Web launch at the turn of the millennium and then the others when they “updated” the site in 2006. In fact, the online edition has actually regressed from its first incarnation in 1999, which included photos, letters to the editor and much of the content included in the actual paper. Only recently have the spritely Saratogian Webmasters recalled how they once included still images on their site. Now they want to include video and blogs? Let’s just say the optimists are skeptical.
Update: Within one day of launching their new Website, The Saratogian has already stopped updates. None of the articles appearing in print Saturday have made their way to the Web. Good work, guys. Way to give confidence to your dwindling advertising pool.
True, there are some nooks and crannies readers can spelunk through while traversing the new cavernous online edition. But these nooks and crannies –namely video from shot by Troy Record reporters –quickly become tiresome. But at least there’s something to surf through while waiting for news content to boot up. See, the “new” site is remarkably slow.
In fact, the term “dial-up” comes to mind while pulling up one of the paper’s normally lacking stories. Click on any link and you’re in for a 5- to 10-second wait before any text appears. Even better is the fact that most of the links take you to peculiar areas of the site or simply go nowhere. It’s kind of like getting on the end of a ridiculously long line at DMV when the office is about to close; you’re probably going to wait around for a long time to get nothing.
Update: The Saratogian is doing daily Web updates. The first update was to take the aforementioned missive and move it to a more prominent area of the Website...into...the updates. But some credit is due: the dial-up speed has gotten a bit faster.
Previously, the excuse proffered by the Lake Avenue editors was that the JRC overlords managed the Saratogian’s site, meaning everything needed to be shipped to corporate HQ in order to be posted online. And given the crawling pace of the new site, there’s a good chance this sort of flawed business model is continuing, even though all the Saratogian’s regional competitors have switched to extremely lithe formats that can post news within minutes of it happening.
Update: This site just keeps getting better. The message was left by the JRC tool boxes instead of news Wednesday morning, five days after the so-called launch. “Dear user, Thank you for using our Web site. We are currently experiencing technical problems with the site you are trying to view. We expect to have these issues resolved shortly. Please check back in a few minutes to access the site. We apologize for any inconvenience this causes.” And the follies continue.
Even the lumbering Schenectady Daily Gazette has vaulted itself into the hurtling traffic stream of the information superhighway. Smartly, the Gazette editors didn’t vomit out their new Website into cyberspace and instead launched a limited trial site, where they could tweak problems out of the public eye, so to speak. To date, the Gazette still hasn’t launched their official site.
No such luck with JRC. They seem to think the underpaid, outmanned and overworked Saratogian news crews will somehow manage to get spot news online despite the paper already having problems nailing down last week’s stories. Well, here’s a hint for the business pros at JRC and their Spa City protégés: it’s probably better idea to master the locomotion of walking before taking the first lunges of running. Let’s leave the marathons up to the pros for the time being.