Slow News Day

It took about five minutes for this much of The Dallas Morning News' crap Web site to load. Seriously. Five minutes. Sure, ours ain't the best either, but at least it loads...most of the time.

I have been trying to focus my thoughts on why the new Dallas Morning News Web page irritates me so much. Part of fair disclosure here is that our own Web page gets on my nerves too. And then the worst thing to have to admit: The one I like is D magazine's.

But I do think I know why. I mean, look, we're all print media here, and I know we're supposed to get a dispensation for being boring because of that. And then Web pages: They're on the Web. That's supposed to make some kind of a difference. Nobody has ever told me what kind. Maybe I misssed the meeting.

The point is, this is all still show biz. To sell a newspaper, you have to put on a show. You're not publishing a dictionary. In order to get the whole thing off the ground, somebody has to be an impresario. And the more information you intend to convey, the better you have to be at guessing which part of it is hot and which part maybe not.

So D's Web page is like a magazine cover: big art, big theme, big grab for attention, with an index of details off to the side. We sort of get there with our own page, but it seems to me we still have four or five different indexes to the same stuff. Somebody needs to make a choice.

The News' new page, though, is just terrible. I've seen more show biz in a card catalogue.

The one box they do have at the top they use for nerdy features. And then it's all lists, lists and lists. The bottom of the page looks like a vast national cemetery for news stories.

Plus, somebody who knows the engineering of this stuff please tell me: Why is the News' page so incredibly slow? (Editor's note: Since you're feeling all lovey-dovey towards D at the moment, Jim, here's one explanation.) I have to think up several other things I can be working on when I go there so I won't go crazy waiting for the pages to create.

What all these things need is less design from Web wonks and more from old-fashioned front-page editors and art directors, people who know how to grab an audience and maybe won't be afraid to decide that the "Realtors adapting to new reality" story is not front-page material.

With the exception of D's page, most of the rest of them look to me like what cars would be if they were still being designed by mechanics. The Model T comes to mind. --Jim Schutze

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky