Posted by: sweeneyblog | August 8, 2013

Bellingham Herald Hinders its Political Blog

The Bellingham Herald has made a tragic decision recently. They migrated their well-written political blog (by John Stark and Ralph Schwartz) back onto the main Bellingham Herald page. The politics blog is perhaps one of the most active areas of the Bellingham Herald in terms of community engagement, and looking at the old page and the new page, it is crystal clear why McClatchy made the decision.

The Old Politics Blog

The Old Politics Blog

The New Politics Blog

The New Politics Blog

Putting the blog back on the main site ensures that readers are exposed to the advertising displayed on the rest of the Herald. Considering that this is how they pay John Stark and Ralph Schwartz salaries, that is not a bad thing. What is truly tragic is they lose this feature:

The ability to view recent comments

The ability to view recent comments

This is what drove so much community activity on the Politics Blog site. People would stop by during the day and could quickly and easily check if anyone had commented. The new site has no such feature, it does not even display how many comments are on each post. Without that incentive to click into the article and see what others have said, I imagine the traffic stats will take a nose dive.

I understand this is a decision made at a higher level, but it shows how a little change in design can have a huge impact on readership. I hope the Politics Blog will continue to be a strong resource in our community but with this transition, continuing might be a difficult task.

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Responses

  1. There’s another issue – the comment threads on the main Herald website are overrun with mouth-breathers who fill up the comments with stupidities. And the Herald does not moderate, except: it appears the Herald actively censors comments on articles that involve the federal government (notably CBP and law enforcement.

    The politics blog was pretty much the only board with comments worth reading – now what’s the point? Unless I want a coupon for pizza.

  2. I’ve not checked out the new format, but I will be hugely disappointed if links aren’t allowed any more. The writers and commenters added so much dimension with related information, and I often used links to blog posts as a means of directing people to key press releases, agency announcements, etc. The comments issue is another grave concern, because the blog page was sometimes where community leaders and activists would engage in lively discussions about key issues. It is hard to imagine David Onkels engaging thusly on the main page. What a loss. –Terry

    • No matter what they do, I will ensure that healthy and positive discussions can always occur here on the Political Junkie.

  3. Thank-you Riley! I do mourn the gradual loss of robust journalism; there’s a whole generation that never knew what that was, to have a common meme. Where do new grads in journalism go these days to work and pay off their tens of thousands in student loans?

  4. Format makes all the difference when trying to promote discussion so
    I won’t be patronizing the new page.

  5. I love what you guys are usually up too. Such clever work
    and reporting! Keep up the awesome works guys I’ve incorporated
    you guys to our blogroll.


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