Northeast blackout unplugs 10 sites
Disasters can sometimes be journalism’s finest hour, as news organizations deliver information of vital importance and high interest, perhaps even rebuilding some public trust. Or they can be journalism’s worst hour, as news organizations themselves are affected and don’t rise to the heroics of offering facts and stability.
My friend Chris Trucksess e-mailed to report that OregonLive.com is down as a result of the New York blackout, replaced by a ridiculous “blackout blog” that I’ve archived here. It’s joined by the nine other Web sites hosted on the same content management system: NJ.com, AL.com, MLive.com, Cleveland.com, Nola.com, Syracuse.com, PennLive.com, MassLive.com and SILive.com. There are a number of reasons this is awful journalism from these already shoddy sites:
- Sites shouldn’t go down like this. Backup power and redundant facilities are just costs of doing business in the online world. Did those systems fail, or were they not even in place?
- Sites elsewhere in the country definitely shouldn’t go down like this. Readers in Oregon or Alabama or Louisiana don’t expect their “local” news sites to in fact be hosted in the Northeast. This is a real danger of putting all your eggs in one basket hosting-wise.
- The content is terrible. I think blogs ought to have a place on news sites, but the reverse-chronological structure is totally inappropriate for the front page. And the best these sites can offer are four AP stories, links to other news organizations’ coverage and unenlightening personal blogs?
- There was no explanation of the problem. The page now contains an “editor’s note” that says “we ... are working to restore our sites,” but it’s not prominent enough and wasn’t there a little while ago when I archived the page. That’s an inexcusable omission, especially for readers outside the Northeast.
- The blog’s timestamps are wrong. Perhaps the entries are being written every few minutes as the timestamps claim, but they only seem to be posted to the server and made publicly available in chunks every hour or so.
Overall, this is amateurish and irresponsible.
One of the things I really noticed was the lack of 'ads.' It was rather nice. I might pay for something like that each month. ;)