03 July 2009

VOCM website = GCRI

VOCM’s new website is turning into a bit of a disaster.

A new feature that lists the most popular news stories also allows for old stories that are long since out-dated to appear next to other stories that continue a story as it plays out.

The one that stands out right now is the story of a man who died on Tuesday after hitting a parked truck on the Outer Ring Road a week ago today.

We already noted that the website featured a story yesterday that had the guy still alive, two days after he succumbed to his injuries.

Things aren’t any better on Friday. 

vocm july 3

This is a screen capture of the site at about quarter past eight on Friday, July 3.  As you can see, one story which reports the guy is dead is listed as the second most “popular” story.  Farther down there is still the story that he’s in critical condition.

Someone looking for the latest news – something VO used to be famous for – is now confronted with stories from different dates that give different aspects of the same story.  If you didn’t check the dates or if, as yesterday showed, the older story is “more popular”, then you’ll be getting out-dated information.  Badly outdated information.

And while we’re at it, how in the name of merciful heavens can anyone justify having a “most popular” post space on a news site?  It works on a blog because it simply shows what people are most interested in.

A news site where it’s greatest hits can include some gruesome, grizzly stories should not be promoting those stories based on any notion popularity.  A simple hit counter associated with each story, as CBC online does, allows the reader to gauge how many people have been reading it.  That’s useful.  In the CBC case, they track the number of comments and the number of people who have “recommended” a story.

The VO website redesign is garish enough.  There are some good features but it is, for the most part, pretty ugly.  What’s even uglier is this “most popular” news story feature.

VO had a well-deserved reputation for getting stories fast and delivering the raw details concisely.  It’s news room had and has some sharp, professional people in it.  They might be relatively young in some cases but they worked hard at getting it right.


It’s not ugly.

It’s gruesome. 


On top of that it is rude and insulting both to VO’s audience and to its newsroom staff.