Wednesday, March 21, 2012

O For Awesome

Time for some personal hand wringing about NZ on line news, specifically nzherald.co.nz. I feel compelled to add at this point the following is only because I care. As a former employee who had a very positive experience working there, a firm believer of the importance of a quality fourth estate in a healthy democracy blah blah, that this brand is the best chance we have of a quality news site in the NZ market and, a little more selfishly, to provide a quality and engaging space for me to clutter with advertising.

While it’s by no means every day, I see blunders on the home page that make me wish the journo’s and / or sub editors would just slow down. Take a breath. Pause and maybe even spellcheck to avoid headlines with the word (um, word?) ‘Inconscious’ in them (had to chuckle after emailing the screen shot of the home page to a contact at the nzherald to ask ‘what is wrong with this picture?’ to have them point to another error I hadn’t noticed in another story).

Or in some cases taking their time to add their own headline to fit the brand and audience, instead of just using whatever pre packaged headline news agencies supply them with. I suspect this was the case with the headline ‘Jailed! Spot-Fixing Pakistan Cricketers Sent To Slammer’. An exclamation mark and the word ‘slammer’ instead of prison? Good lord. Makes me think I’ve stumbled onto Stuff or The Daily Mail. Eww. I’ll leave my views on the (over?) use of their Breaking News bar for results of horse races or test cricketers reaching centuries and other quality control concerns for another post.

All this leaves me with unanswered questions. Is the immediacy of on line degrading nzherald as a product in their haste to publish? Are these errors and tabloid tactics symptomatic of the difficult transition between the old cash cow of newsprint to moving news on line? Has David Tua taken up a role in the nzherald news room?

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