Some Observations and Thoughts on The PG’s Website

Some Observations and Thoughts on The PG’s Website

The Post-Gazette completely redesigned their website earlier this week.  What I’d like to do is make two lists, first I’ll highlight the changes I observed (the critical ones anyway) and then I’ll share some thoughts on what I think it all means.  I’m not going to share thoughts on the design, the colors, the scrolling, etc… it’s just not my area of expertise.  I’m a product manager and much better at looking at features.  So, let me start by highlighting what I think are the important changes:

  1. There’s a more prominent emphasis on social media.  The blogs are “above the scroll” (we’ll call that the internet equivalent of “above the fold” and you don’t have to scroll far for the twitter feed.
  2. There’s more prominence for videos.
  3. There’s more content from the AP, and it is called out more clearly.
  4. Facebook comments.  They added Facebook comments to every article.  A very interesting step indeed.  TechCrunch did this a while ago, but what it means for you is several fold.  First, you’ll need to have a Facebook account to make a comment.  Second, there aren’t any anonymous comments (thanks to Facebook’s “Real Name” policy).   Third, it will be significantly easier (and in fact an almost built in feature) to share a Post-Gazette story via Facebook.
So, what do these changes mean?  Here are some thoughts:
  1. I think one good step is reducing the amount of content that the Post-Gazette will be required to produce on its own and at journalistic levels of integrity.  The more prominent placement of blogs and AP articles limits the amount of space that must be filled by PG reporters.
  2. The focus on video I think is a good one.  Not just because people like video, but because most of us don’t have the cameras that the PG has nor do we have press credentials.  So, if I’m a blogger outside the PG I can write a very compelling story on my blog about Pirates’ right fielder Alex Presley, but there’s no way I can post an interview of him on my site.  The PG can continue to differentiate by sharing that kind of insider access content.
  3. The Facebook policy is an interesting one to me.  I’m a little concerned that not everyone who uses the site is on Facebook, but then again if you’re the type to comment then you probably are.  I am a fan of removing the opportunity for anonymous comments, this tends to lead to higher value comments.  What I think will be interesting is whether columnists and reporters participate in these comments.
  4. Both the Facebook and Twitter integrations as well as the reliance on blogs are a pretty big bet by the PG.  It seems they feel they can be a leading landing page for the “new web” rather than going down the route of trying to be a content provider.  I’m not sure which is the right solution, it should be interesting to see how it plays out, there’s a lot still to be determined about how content producers look in the future of the internet.

I guess the important thing is that they are doing SOMETHING, not just laying down and accepting their role as a dying media.  That gives me hope!