Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Would You (Did You) See This Story Online?

When Plunking Down $2.50 for The New York Times Can Make a Difference

The lead story (at least in print) for today's New York Times is a compelling yarn from Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Michael Corkery about how collection agencies use the courts to sue unwitting debtors, but can legally block those debtors from challenging them in court.
Instead, they must resort to arbitration, a tactic few pursue because it's a process that's too expensive or one they don't understand.
Since my dinosaur-esque tendencies compel me to hold the Times in my hand each morning, I read the piece with my coffee and coffee yogurt (totally spontaneous and unrehearsed). Mind you, I do check in frequently on the Times later in the day on the PC or assorted mobile devices. Which led me to wonder how the top article on A-1 was being played when I went to about noon ET.
Not very well, as it turns out.
I had to scroll down to the Business Day tab lower on the home page. The article--assuming it had been there once--was no longer one of the three visible headlines. Instead, I clicked on the section and found the piece under the DealBook moniker as part of a recurring series. Maybe the night before it had received more prominent play.
Why does this matter?
More people now have digital Times subscriptions than print. Given the trove of content that's being pumped out, it's easy for stories to get shuffled down the screen or hidden entirely. The Times also has a tendency to post stories that may not make it into the paper until a day or two later. That's even more so the case on Wednesday, when the cover story for the Sunday magazine will appear online (If you need a head start on this year's edition of "The Lives They Lived," have at it). It's a journalistic feast, but we may pay a price for all of that gorging.
In other words, there's a need for editors to align the priorities of digital and print more closely. If an article is the top item above the fold on A-1, then it should be prominent for longer on the home page. Think of readers on the West Coast, Alaska and Hawaii who are getting to later in the news cycle. The debt collection story is one worthy of their time, but they may not get to see it if they don't know to look for it in the first place.
Given that the reporters conducted hundreds of interviews for this series, more readers should be able to reap the fruits of their labors and the Times can justify the expense of backing this commendable project.

No Flipping

Larry Sanders Makes a Comeback, of Sorts

I've been away from the blogosphere for a while, but wanted to chime in on what may be my favorite correction of the year, even though it's got some whiskers. From Dec. 11 New York Times story on the marriage of comedian Carol Leifer and longtime companion Lori Wolfe:

An earlier version of this article misidentified one of the guests at Ms. Leifer and Ms. Wolf’s wedding reception. He is Garry Shandling — not Larry Sanders, a character played by Mr. Shandling.

I always wondered why I never saw the two in the same room.

Doing Sherman Adelson's Bidding in Connecticut

But with Tiny Circulation, Might be Journalistic Version of One-Hand Clapping

The Las Vegas Review-Journal saga keeps getting curiouser and curiouser after Sheldon Adelson was finally outed as the buyer of Nevada's largest daily.
If the R-J newsroom got a little bit queasy when they realized the loud and proud GOP donor was now presiding over their paychecks, no amount of Maalox would have done the trick when editor Mike Hengel announced yesterday he was taking a buyout.
In other words, to be continued.
Now comes a bizarre twist to this story from The Hartford Courant, about why the New Britain Herald, a newspaper with circulation just north of 9,000, published a lengthy story about so-called business courts, including 10 paragraphs devoted to a dustup Adelson had in one in Las Vegas. For a paper the size of the Herald, undertaking such a story is both unusual and unwarranted, given the few reporters left in its newsroom.
Turns out, the Herald's publisher, Michael Schroeder, has a business relationship with Adelson. But that's not where the story ends. The Courant reports it was written by someone named "Edward Clarkin," a scribe no one seems to know anything about, including current and former editors at the Herald or its sister paper, the Bristol Herald.
And for a little extra icing on this cruddy cake, two people quoted in the Clarkin missive said they were never interviewed for the piece and are wondering out loud how they made their way into print.
As for Schroeder, he's not talking about the Herald's newsgathering priorities or much of anything else. Apparently, what happens in New Britain.....