I’ve been starting to notice a few changes on the Nevada Appeal’s website, changes that seem to indicate they’re moving in the right direction finally. The first change is that, if you look at the homepage and the main section pages, you’ll see that the stories have timestamps on them now. So they’re not only marking each story with the date, they’re also marking the time it was published to the website. Now, I don’t know how long these timestamps have been there. I’m not very observant so they could have been there for months. But for a newspaper, which usually runs on a daily cycle, to start marking things by hour and minute, I see that as a big step.
Of course, posting these timestamps reveals the dirty truth about the paper’s website. If you look at the times, you’ll see that most of them are between the hours of 11pm and midnight. This is when they push out all the stories that are going to appear in tomorrow’s paper, all the stories that have been waiting in the computer system all day. This is also probably roughly the time the paper itself goes to print, so the website and the fishwrap both get the stories at the same time, and neither one gets a chance to scoop the other.
That’s the other change, though. If you look you’ll see a few timestamps that are outside of that middle-of-the-night window. The Breaking News/Latest Updates section on the homepage is starting to get more use, and the result is that we’re starting to get new content in the middle of the day from them. It used to be that they’d only break out of their publish-at-midnight routine for a big story, like a wildfire or a bank robbery. But now I’m seeing regular stories, and things like entertainment reports, showing up throughout the day. These stories aren’t having to “wait” for the paper to be printed, they’re being posted on the website as soon as they’re ready. I’ve been calling for this for a long time, and now I’m finally starting to see it happen. This is the big step that papers have to make to get the best use out of their websites.
So hopefully this is a new trend, and the Appeal is slowly moving away from the once-a-day-publishing mentality and starting to embrace the idea of their webpage as a living entity, capable of always having something fresh for their readers. There are stories being written and edited all throughout the day in their newsroom. These stories shouldn’t have to wait until midnight to get published, and now, increasingly, they’re not. All I can say is, Bravo. More please.
Maybe one day we can hope they move off of Publicus too, but that might be too much to ask.