Monday, March 5, 2007

The Chronicle's Website

I noticed the Catholic Chronicle has a survey in the latest issue. It seems the staff are seeking opinions about their website. This is a good idea, but it seems to me they're going about it the wrong way.
First, let me say that I rarely use the website. Why? That's easy. There's nothing on it that's of any use to me. Bishop Blair's column is always wonderful, but I read it in the print version. There's a nice photo archives, a couple articles, and that's about it. The archives could be useful at some point, but old news is old news. I have to say the site is very well designed. It's a beauty. That does not, however, make up for the lack of content.
Second, I must say I think Ms Kessler's editorial is a bit disturbing. When exploring a new project, it's a monumentally bad idea to give the impression that you think it's a waste of your valuable time. I'm sorry, Ms Kessler, but the internet is here to stay and newspapers, though I agree they're not going to be completely replaced, are going to have to accept that and act accordingly. The Chronicle is a very well produced asset to the diocese. A good website would only increase its worth.
The way the survey is presented is also a bit disturbing. When you want opinions on how to improve a website, the best people to ask are the people who use it. Wouldn't it have made sense to put the survey online, rather than in a rinky-dink little cutout on page 27?
So, what would I recommend? That's simple. Go with your strengths. There are a dozen places on the web where I can get national and international Catholic news. Why duplicate? Just link to a lot of them. What we really need is a frequently updated source for local Catholic news. You do that quite well in print so I'm quite sure you'd do it well online. It'd keep everyone up to date on breaking stories between issues and I, for one, would use it regularly.

1 comment:

Jay Anderson said...

I agree with you on everything you say, especially the bit about frequency of updates for news within the Diocese.

I dislike having to wait an entire month for diocesan news. The diocesan newspaper for the Diocese of Richmond (where I used to live) came out every 2 weeks. If the editors of the Chonicle don't want to publish that often, at the very least they should update the website with additional diocesan news stories on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.

I use the website every time it is updated, mostly because I like to access the electronic version of the Bishop's column to publish parts (or all) of it on my blog. I would love to be able to use the Chronicle's website more often than once a month, but, because of the lack of content and infrequency of updates, there's very little need to do so.