Goodbye Ledger Online, Hello

TheLedger.com is getting a new design today according to Managing Editor/Digital Barry Friedman.

Yes, it was just a mere 8 months and 25 days ago that TheLedger.com 3.0 debuted. Friedman received 77 reader comments on that redesign. I’m betting he gets fewer this time. Readers are getting used to design changes affecting their daily news perusal.

What will the new design look like? I’m glad you asked. If you’ve read the News Chief online lately you’ve already seen the Ledger’s new design. You can also see it at the Gainesville, Ocala, Wilmington (NC), Santa Rosa (CA), Houma (LA), and Thibadoux (LA) online sites.

Yes, the Ledger’s parent company, the New York Times, wants to have similar online sites for all the papers it owns. Well, except for the New York Times. With their teaser paragraph heavy front page, the New York Times readers must expect something more than a lot of lonely headlines.

However, headlines are what you’re going to get with the new Ledger site. The page is bursting with headlines. Headlines for local news, features, sports, and AP news. Headlines for forum posts, columns, reporter blog posts, and national news.

One or two important stories rate teaser paragraphs. The rest of the page is chock-full of headlines the Ledger hopes will lure readers inside.

Why?

According to a Standford-Poynter project, it’s because you multi-task:

In contrast, online readers are catching up with their news between answering e-mail, conversing with colleagues, or answering phone calls. The need for quicker access to information is much more prevalent online.

In addition to headlines, video will literally be the centerpiece of the new site. For good reason: younger readers want it.

“We’re talking about a generation that doesn’t just like seeing the video in addition to the story — they expect it,” said Danny Shea, 23, the associate media editor for The Huffington Post (huffingtonpost.com). “And they’ll find it elsewhere if you don’t give it to them, and then that’s the link that’s going to be passed around over e-mail and instant message.” — New York Times

Why cater to younger readers? Advertising. We old folks aren’t buying enough dead tree editions of the paper, nor is anyone placing enough classified advertisements. So, The Ledger, and other newspapers, are tweaking online until they can re-capture their audience. Well, at least a piece of it.

I admit I’m one of those old folks, and I’m also leaving behind the paper version of the Ledger. Every morning before breakfast I buy a copy of the Ledger at a paper box. Soon I’ll join the young crowd and go all digital. Coincidently, I just purchased a huge monitor that lets me see the entire Ledger front page in one glance. I’m sure that’s how I’ll probably read it — with a glance over the headlines and a click or five to read some stories within.

I think the Ledger’s headline writers are going to become the paper’s new stars.

Update 09:20 – Speaking of headline writers, there was an “oops” on the front of this morning’s paper edition of the Ledger. “Ledger.Com Unveils New Format Today” was the headline on the top right pug, but unfortunately “ledger.com” is the URL for the Patriot Ledger in Quincy, MA. I prefer lakelandledger.com for our hometown paper.

2 thoughts on “Goodbye Ledger Online, Hello

  1. Very on the mark. Copy editors, those anonymous journalists who write headlines, ARE about to become the new stars. Some of them know it already. The rest will learn very quickly.

  2. Very on the mark. Copy editors, those anonymous journalists who write headlines, ARE about to become the new stars. Some of them know it already. The rest will learn very quickly.

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