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.
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:
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.