Thursday, October 25, 2007

How to read a web newspaper

OK, so I know that everything on the web is miscellaneous. But I've been wondering why I interact with two highly similar web sites so differently.

I subscribe to both the New York Times and Wall Street Journal newspapers, and read both online (especially when traveling, like today).

When I read the NYT online, I meander through the sections--sports (yay Red Sox), technology, business, arts, books. Pretty much in that order. I just about never read the front page. I go right for the detail.

With the WSJ online, I invariably seek out the button that says "Today's Newspaper." Clicking this loads a page where articles are listed in the order they appear in the paper, with page number headings--A1, A2, etc. It's not laid out like the paper, but for example Marketplace is the second section, starting with page B1, just like the hardcopy edition.

Why do I use these two sites so differently? In part, I've always navigated the Times miscellaneously. (Sunday paper reading order--sports, arts, books, business, week in review, styles, magazine. I recall my astonishment seeing my friend Gerry Halstead read the Sunday Times front section once, beginning to end, each article in full. It took him a good hour.)

But I do read the Journal in order: section A (glance at the op-ed page but not too closely so I don't get annoyed), section B, skip section C (not enough investments to worry about that), section D, if at all, over lunch.

And so it is online. The cool thing about the web, and with well-organized web sites, is that the user can choose. Read it our way, read it your way. Whichever you prefer.

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