Long-time readers of this blog will know I rag on The Boston Globe a fair amount. Well in today’s post we’ll visit the other side of the coin and talk about a few things the Boston Globe does well. Now, this post won’t be full of praise. Rather, I’ll point out a few areas where the Globe is performing admirably, but also try to offer advice on how they can improve.
- Call out Politicians
- Promote Local Bloggers
- Easy to Read Design
- Social Media and Community Building
In my opinion, one of the most important roles of a newspaper is to keep public figures honest. The Globe does that, on occasion, such as when the Globe called out Mayor Menino to push for MBTA reform. I’d love to see the Globe take a more active role in pushing politicians to pursue positive policy change. A great start would be having a section that lists all the politicians, their campaign promises, and what they’ve done to fulfill those promises.
As someone who received the Boston Globe bump, I know first hand that the Globe does try and promote the little guys. They could do a better job, by creating an archive of bloggers linked to before (to preserve the link juice), but being featured on the Globe’s homepage is a start and can be a launching point for Boston bloggers. I’ve heard from many other bloggers who wish their local paper had a similar feature, so kudos to the Globe for sharing some of their massive traffic with Boston bloggers who also help drive traffic to the Globe’s site.
I’ve heard from a lot of people that they hate the Boston Globe’s design. Don’t count me as one of those people. For all their faults, in my eyes their web site’s design is not one of them. Sure it’s a bit cluttered, but it’s a newspaper. They have tons of content they want to showcase and in my opinion, their design accomplishes that without completely overwhelming readers. Plus, when you click through to a single article their typography and layout is spot-on and makes for a pleasurable read.
The only change I’d like to see happen is a section that showcases local news. I know the Globe does write about local stories, but they’re often buried out of sight off the homepage. Having a Boston stories section would help the Globe and Bostonians stay in touch with what’s going on in the City of Boston.
These two areas are places where the Globe gets kudos for effort, but they could stand to improve both areas. A few months back, the Globe rolled out a community feature, where commenters can create a profile describing themselves a little bit. Looking through some comments, I’m not even sure if this feature is still around, but at least they’re trying to give commenters a persistence presence.
An area where the Globe really excels though, is not just using social media to promote their articles, but more so using social media to promote news within their articles. During the MBTA crash at Government Center, the Globe had a running Twitterstream that showed the latest tweets coming in about the crash. Knowing that they couldn’t possibly match the real-time tweets, the Globe reported as much as they could and also gave readers the option to view the stream to get up to the minute updates.
It’s great to see the Globe reach out to the community for some citizen journalism, though the un-filtered stream was filled with duplicates and even a few tweets that shouldn’t have been there. It’ll likely never happen, but I would love to see the Globe allow commenters to link to their sites. It would provide a background on the commenter and help drive traffic to good commenters’ sites. And if they use Disqus, any SEO worries could be averted.
As yesterday’s crossword puzzle shows, the Globe does have a humorous side. OK, sure, one of my main critiques against the Globe is not focusing on the truly important news, but hey, everyone could use a little laugh in their day.
None of these positive aspects of the Boston Globe are perfect, but I feel they’re ahead of the game compared to most mainstream newspapers. Hopefully they’ll take some of the advice here into consideration. Instead of just ragging on the Globe, my efforts going forward will be on ways to improve the paper. Having the best newspaper possible benefits all Bostonians. That doesn’t mean I won’t call out the Globe in the future, but I’ll try to temper it by also offering ways to improve.
What are some areas you think the Globe does well? Where could they improve?
6 responses to “Five Things the Boston Globe Does Well”
Nice, I remember when ProBlogger ask Google for something, damn it’s too early to remember what is was again, and sure enough it was out in a month.
The Globe found you to put you on the FP and now let’s see if they listen to you now. That would be cool..
Was it this article about Darren asking FeedBurner to show post titles in e-mails? I remember reading that same suggestion in a few places (DailyBlogTips.com was another), and then seeing it get released a month or two later.
It would be cool if the Globe took some of these suggestions and implemented them, “Adam Pieniazek: Newspaper Fixer”, LOL. Seriously though, these improvements would make the Globe a better product and that’s a win-win for everyone involved.
With your first bullet, I thought you meant the printed newspaper–but then I realized you referred to the online edition. Is it fair to talk about a newspaper when you only refer to the web?
Oh, and if you want to read about pushing politicians, 1) keep in mind the Globe is Democratic-centric and the Herald is more Republican-oriented; so 2) you’ll read more jarring in the Herald.
I suppose I should have clarified a bit Ari, but I see the two as interchangeable. The main reason I refer to Boston.com as the Boston Globe is that’s how I consume the Globe, haven’t touched a printed Globe in years! Most of the content is the same, and the web-site is becoming the main distribution method. So, I think it’s fair but I can see how I could’ve clarified it.
You’re right about the political leanings of the two papers. That’s another area they could both improve in, removing bias when talking politics. They can and should push politicians on both sides to work more efficiently.
I don’t read the Herald’s site as much as Boston.com, but should. Though, from years of reading the Herald, it seems they blow things out of proportion just to generate hype more often than the Globe. Both papers are guilty of it, but seems the Herald does it more often which ends up diluting truly important stories when they do break.
Check out the Your Town section of boston.com – http://www.boston.com/yourtown/?p1=HP_Well_YourTown_Header . You might find that interesting in terms of local coverage.
Right Marc, my point is that the Globe has a local section for other towns, but news directly happening in Boston is hard to find. There should be a Your Town section for Boston, with a breakdown by neighborhood. There is a local section but it’s buried and categorizes local as anything happening in Massachusetts. For a site called Boston.com, it should be easy to find news about Boston directly on the homepage.