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?