Mr. Print, Meet Ms. Web; Ms. Web Meet Mr. Print...
November 12, 2002 2:12 AM   Subscribe

Mr. Print, Meet Ms. Web; Ms. Web Meet Mr. Print... As a long-time Argentinian exile, I'm quite proud to report that, amidst (and notwithstanding) the economic chaos, my favorite daily newspaper, Clarín, is experimenting with a (free and complete) Internet edition that ambitiously attempts to combine facsimiles of the printed pages with the Web-friendly version. It even has (perhaps excessively) an estimated time for reading! What do you think? [In Spanish, but, for the purposes of the present evaluation, not important. Please click on "Ingresar".]
posted by Carlos Quevedo (14 comments total)
I can't understand what the value of the fascimiles is.

Liberation in Paris started off many years ago on the Web with scanned pages, but they then moved quickly to on-line text articles. Since then, bit by bit, the online edition's design diverged from the print edition, even though they share content.

That seems to me like the right way to go. Clarin needs to invest in a Web-specific design.
posted by fuzz at 3:45 AM on November 12, 2002

It's hard to imagine a more web-specific design than what they're doing there (certainly not perfect, but I naturally don't get all of the UI since I don't understand Spanish). Using an image of the printed page (complete with pop-up summaries and descriptions) as an aid for scanning (and serendipitous article/heading finding) is quite smart — if you found that the additional information somehow distracted you, you could always flip the left column to the search tab.
posted by sylloge at 4:05 AM on November 12, 2002

I don't quite see the excitement here. A paper revamped its web edition? And I agree with fuzz -- it seems retrograde.

Besides, I prefer La Nación.
posted by languagehat at 7:48 AM on November 12, 2002

It may be an interesting presentation of the news, but in terms of usability it's a step backward. I mean, why go through the extra trouble of clicking on an image of the front page just so I can read a teaser for the article I clicked on? It adds a superfluous step to the process of using the newspaper. Listing the headlines and teasers on a page, with instant click-through to the full article is faster and more efficient, and the mini front page doesn't add much to the experience.

(Doesn't the NYT offer a digital version of the broadsheet layout somewhere on their site? I looked all over the for a link.)
posted by me3dia at 8:24 AM on November 12, 2002

One of the best examples of online news looking like the printed version is, of all places, the Chattanooga Times Free Press. It looks exactly like the paper, but you can click on any photo/article/paragraph to see it zoom to a larger, readable version. You can even pick between straight text or exact print layout.

The only downside is that for non-subscribers to the print version, the only thing you can see is what the main pages look like-- you can't zoom in.
posted by tsitzlar at 8:29 AM on November 12, 2002

I like this. I was a beta subscriber to the NYT online edition and found it slow and cumbersome even with a broadband connection. Unless it's improved with its actual rollout, it is far inferior to this Argentine paper, imo. Also, it's a fee service.
posted by lometogo at 8:56 AM on November 12, 2002

I find this style cool. Perhaps less so if I spoke spanish and could actually use this as a periodical, but just strictly as a concept, I like it. It has a welcoming feel, sort of like how those faux record clicks and scratches that are really just a digital loop on some dj'd mix cds make them seem more analog.
posted by dong_resin at 9:02 AM on November 12, 2002

As far as reading times go, a lot of old publications used to place reading times directly on stories. A while back my family knocked down a shed built in 1939. We knew the date it was roughly completed, because stuffed in the walls were old magazines and advertisements. Several of the magazines had estimated reading times above every story. Its somewhat surprising that estimated times aren't on stories now, but I figure that's because no-one reads the whole thing anyway.
posted by woil at 9:22 AM on November 12, 2002

Very user friendly for a newspaper site. It recognizes that the print layout of a paper is highly accessible, easily scannable, well organized and has evolved over a long time. But just putting a facsimile edition up, like the NYTimes Newsstand edition, results in a cumbersome website. With Clarin, the facsimile serves only as a means of scanning, you read a web-formatted version. This really gives you the "best of both worlds." Nice touches: you can look at two-page spreads ("Doble Pagina" starting on Page Two), you can get a large type version (the "A a" toggle over right panel), there's a history of pages you visited so you can find your way back easily ("Mi Diario") and a versatile search ("Busquedas"). Also, you can jump directly to any specific page or section (under "Sumario"). Ads, comics, photos etc. are enlargeable.

All in all, a great new concept for any print publication to consider.
posted by beagle at 10:01 AM on November 12, 2002

Let's not forget - the Clarin does have a web specific version... this "edicion electronica" is probably an experiment (very interesting I think) they are making.
posted by falameufilho at 10:53 AM on November 12, 2002

i really really liked that.

i'd be really intersted in learning about their production methods ... how quickly that all can come together.
posted by 11235813 at 11:14 AM on November 12, 2002

Very nice. I wish a paper I was interested in reading every day would try a similar layout, so I could play with it over a period of days or weeks.

Interestingly (to me, at least), it appears that some of the images are scanned directly from the newspaper. To see one example, visit page 20 and enlarge the image of the airplane. If you look along the bottom, you'll see that the picture was scanned straight out of the paper.
posted by syzygy at 12:16 PM on November 12, 2002

It's an interesting experiment, but puts up obstacles. Firstly, you have to click a button and wait for a full-screen popup. Then you get an image of the front page that's annoyingly just slightly too small to let you read the text, you have to click around to read the summaries. Then there's another click to get to the article, there's no browser Back button, right-click is disabled, search engines can't index the articles, and other sites can't link to an individual page.

I'm afraid I'd much rather have the front page presented as a web page (this is one case where vaguely mimicking the print design might work well) so I can read it immediately, leading directly through to articles, all with simple, consistent navigation and logical cross-linking. News sites need to be simple, immediate and accessible.
posted by malevolent at 12:57 PM on November 12, 2002

We looked at it, and tossed the concept rather quickly.

Think for a moment about the production time involved in producing a daily newspaper in this manner, as opposed to a direct-to-web front-end editing system. Every page scanned. Every article and photograph pop-uped for summary. Then the page ripped for image-mapping, and THEN the article taken at a readable scale. We're talking large numbers of man-hours taken to provide timely information... with the very dubious question of whether the advertising will make the payment for those man-hours worthwhile.

Somebody's taking a bath on this experiment.

These guys are either paying a heck of a lot of money to a third party provider (which was how it was offered to us), or have ballooned their web staff in order to put out a product like this on a timely basis. If it's a morning paper, they put it to print at 12:00-1:00am, and they'd better have the online product in place by 6:00am... that's a lot of work for a little gee-whiz, and a questionable internet nav.
posted by Perigee at 3:01 PM on November 12, 2002

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