The good and bad of broadsheet

The above blog post fueled ridicule of a questioner who, during a presentation for E Ink at the Future of Science Journalism Symposium, gave voice to a fundamental divide between print and electronic media that must be reconciled. Could the marketing director’s electronic-paper-display software and device, the journalist in the audience asked, do for her what a traditional broadsheet newspaper does, enable her to scan through its content? Clearly, many have missed her point in asking such a question. Surely this woman does not suggest that commuters lug with them on the subway an over-sized gadget. And unless she intends to then print out the displays so she can “feel” the pages between her fingers (my History of Journalism professor actually once said this in class), she is not some member of a new race of troglodytes, averse to computer screens and electronic text.

Until a more “human-like” graphical user interface (GUI) is developed, new-media apologists should admit that print journals still trump their digital counterparts when it comes to presentation of the news. There are rumblings of slow developments in this arena, such as “zooming” (zoomable user interface or ZUI), which is said to be closer to the human model of scanning and narrowing in on information. This could solve one of the major drawbacks to on-line news: interfacing. The first Web news source that adopts this technology will be a hero and leave its competitors leagues behind, competitors who still won’t have asked themselves, “what about broadsheet worked“. Our questioner wasn’t longing for the past, she was learning from it.


2 thoughts on “The good and bad of broadsheet

  1. I’m one of those new media types, but I started in print and have worked in every format (even tv and some radio). I say this so you don’t think I’m out to get print. Still my response would be this:

    Google has the best news presentation ever. I can only read one story at a time and my search always turns it up.

    And when I find a really good source of information, I have my RSS reader, which lets me read 250 news outlets a day.

    I think that’s a pretty good GUI.

  2. wiredbeat: to follow up what you said about Google News, I think it would be interesting to you to consider the article today in the International Herald Tribune…

    Acceptance, not dominance, for Google News
    By Miguel Helft

    Tuesday, June 24, 2008
    MOUNTAIN VIEW, California: The death of Tim Russert of NBC News this month quickly became a top story on the biggest U.S. news sites.

    The front page of Google News took about an hour to catch up.

    Google blamed a technical problem for the delay and said it was not a sign that its news site, whose content is compiled entirely by computer programs, lacks timeliness.

    Still, while news organizations worry about what Google is doing to their business, the company is far from achieving the kind of dominant position in news that it has in other areas. Six years after its start, Google News appears to be stuck in neutral and struggling to keep up with rivals.

    Several online media experts say Google has done little to change the site in recent years, especially when compared with its other products like Google Maps or Gmail, which get new features at a rapid pace.

    Perhaps as a result, traffic growth is sluggish. With 11.4 million users in May, Google News ranked No. 8 among news sites, far behind Yahoo News, which was No. 1 with 35.8 million visitors, according to Nielsen Online.

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