Another reason online beats print

By Steve Outing

My business partner noted an item in Keith Huang’s Blog Watch column of the Wall Street Journal on Monday that talked about one of my company’s bloggers, Katie Brown, and her blog on YourClimbing.com. He saw it in the print edition.

So I wanted to put a link to the column on YourClimbing.com, but of course I couldn’t, because Blog Watch is behind WSJ.com’s paid-subscription wall. That’s problem No. 1.

Problem No. 2: When I went to the WSJ.com version of the column, I discovered the full text of what Huang had written. The print edition had only about half of what he wrote. If I hadn’t looked it up online, I would have missed the main point of the short item. Print editors — no doubt trimming to fit Huang’s prose into the space available around the ads — trimmed the item about Katie so much that it reads like a teaser. Online, you get the full effect.

I’m old enough to remember working at newspapers and being in the “back shop” working with the compositors at fitting stories in the space available. Copy editors in those old days estimated the space needed for a story and scribbled instructions on a layout sheet. But estimates were often off, so you had to go out back and tell a compositor with an Xacto knife what to cut to make it fit.

That this is still being done (albeit, without the “cold type“) feels amazingly archaic to me. Why anyone still reads the print edition of the Journal instead of paying for a (cheaper and more complete) online subscription is beyond my comprehension. (Note: We only get the print edition because the previous tenant of our current office hasn’t cancelled his subscription, so we receive it every morning.)

For reference, here’s the online version of Huang’s column item:

Professional climber Katie Brown, 26, has been scaling rock faces since she was a teenager, making an early name for herself by winning titles in the U.S. and in Europe. She says her blog helps readers “get an idea of who I am as a person, rather than just an image.”

Along those lines, she discussed a recent vacation from climbing, writing that “realistically, climbing for a living, and all that comes with it, in addition to everything else that goes on in life, can be tiring, and I think it’s okay to want to get away from it for a bit, even something as fun as climbing.”

In addition to her writing, she posts video clips, perhaps the most notable a nail-biter in which she falls about 40 feet before an anchored rope stops her. In another post, she accentuates the positives despite failing to reach the summit of El Capitan, a famous 3,000-foot vertical rock formation in Yosemite National Park: “When I got to the ground I had the immense pleasure of telling, essentially, the whole world about our lack of success.” Ms. Brown led the ascent most of the way, “something which, a year ago, I would have been far too intimidated to do,” she writes, adding: “best of all, I got to sleep on a wall.” Other entries by Ms. Brown include accounts of climbing trips to Chile and Greece.

And here’s the trimmed print version.:

Professional climber Katie Brown, 26, has been scaling rock faces since she was a teenager, making an early name for herself by winning titles in the U.S. and in Europe. She says her blog helps readers “get an idea of who I am as a person, rather than just an image.”

In addition to her writing, she posts video clips, perhaps the most notable a nail-biter in which she falls about 40 feet before an anchored rope stops her.

Author: Steve Outing Steve Outing is a Boulder, Colorado-based media futurist, digital-news innovator, consultant, journalist, and educator. ... Need assistance with media-company future strategy? Get in touch with Steve!

4 Responses to "Another reason online beats print"

  1. mike strand
    mike strand 10 years ago .Reply

    Amazing. At my paper, big-time management is spending huge amounts of money on a new system for updating the website. Among the advantages touted are that it will be almost completely automated, and it will post the ‘final’ version of the story — in other words, the cut-to-fit version. Frankly, both of these strike me as negatives — but I’ve given up long ago

  2. mike strand
    mike strand 10 years ago .Reply

    Amazing. At my paper, big-time management is spending huge amounts of money on a new system for updating the website. Among the advantages touted are that it will be almost completely automated, and it will post the 'final' version of the story — in other words, the cut-to-fit version. Frankly, both of these strike me as negatives — but I've given up long ago

  3. […] Steve Outing: Another reason online beats print “Why anyone still reads the print edition of the [Wall Street] Journal instead of paying for a (cheaper and more complete) online subscription is beyond my comprehension.” (tags: journalism subediting wsj advertising) […]

  4. […] Steve Outing » Another reason online beats print “When I went to the WSJ.com version of the column, I discovered the full text of what Huang had written. The print edition had only about half of what he wrote. If I hadn’t looked it up online, I would have missed the main point of the short item.” (tags: internet newspapers newspapersites journalism wsj) […]

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