Newspapers or advertising platforms?

I used to read the local papers online but now they’ve started charging for access i do without them, especially as their landing pages have become increasingly cluttered with ads with nary a news story in sight. In fact you wouldn’t even know you were landing on the front page of a newspaper if you look at some of the examples shown below. What you’re viewing are screenshots of the landing pages of the main newspapers in Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, the US and India.

Greetings from Kingston, Jamaica, everyone. It’s been a little over a month since I retired from working as a publications editor at the University of the West Indies. The last few years have been hectic with preparing to make this transition, something i’ve been looking forward to for a while. Being on my own time is a a freedom I feel I’ve earned and a luxury I intend to enjoy for as long as I can.

One of the things I’ve looked forward to doing is re-activating Active Voice, something I haven’t had much time to spend on the last few years. I may soon try out substack, but in the meantime, I will be operating right here.

I don’t know about you but one of the fallouts of the digital age we’re in now is that paper is increasingly receding as a viable/desirable product. i stopped buying physical newspapers almost a decade ago, though i intend to purchase both Jamaican papers over the next few weeks because i’m moving and the newsprint will come in useful when packing.

I used to read the local papers online but now they’ve started charging for access i do without them, especially as their landing pages have become increasingly cluttered with ads with nary a news story in sight. In fact you wouldn’t even know you were landing on the front page of a newspaper if you look at some of the examples shown below. What you’re viewing are screenshots of the landing pages of the main newspapers in Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, the US and India.

What isn’t captured in these screenshots of the landing pages of regional papers is the noisy clamour of ads blinking like strobe lights, distracting videos and busy captions that type themselves across your screen preventing you from getting any sense of the main news stories. when you do find a news story it’s club sandwiched between layers of inane still ads.

Contrast these with the final four screenshots, one of the Statesman in India and the NYT, Washington Post and Boston Globe. In the latter 3 the masthead of the newspaper is clearly visible in large enough letters, there are very few ads pulling your eyes away from the news headlines that give you a good sense of the main news occupying the communities serviced by those newspapers.

When will local news media wake up and put in place serious policies about the way they communicate with their audiences? I have no desire to be bombarded with ads and if it’s an evil the regional news media finds essential then put those advertising dollars to work paying good investigative journalists to expose the many nefarious schemes and plots undermining our social and political systems. Surely there is no doubt after the fallout from ‘Pastor’ Kevin Smith’s peculiar ministrations and the daily updates from the Klansmen trial in Kingston that we are living the zombie apocalypse.

The mindless genuflection to a bankrupt corporate sector that can’t come up with better ways to advertise their products than to plaster boring blandishments across newspapers no one is reading is as much an indictment of these companies as the feckless media conveying their messages.

Jamaica Observer

Jamaica Gleaner

Trinidad Express

Trinidad Guardian

Barbados Nation

The Statesman (India)

Author: ap

writer, editor and avid tweeter

5 thoughts on “Newspapers or advertising platforms?”

  1. May be worth looking beyond the what to the why. I suspect ad revenue options for press media in the Caribbean are quite different than in say USA and UK. I’d think proportionately more eyes are expected on press media sites in developing than in developed countries. Much the same way television in this region runs more to (irritating and intrusive) flashing ads during broadcasting than having solid sponsorship underpinning a transmission. Just a thought. Enjoy the transition. 👍🏾👏🏽👏🏽

    1. Perhaps Dennis. But the current approach by regional media is hardly likely to attract more eyes. No one wants to be startled by strobelight ads and blinking ticker tape ads. Sorry my criticism still stands.

      1. It’s not about whether your criticism has a basis, it’s like asking why Jamaica is full of billboards advertising things than other forms of advertising. Can it be that most corporations in this country are not choosing the media that work best for them? If memory serves well, print media pages in most markets used to be littered with ads well into the 21st century.

      2. yeah well that’s a valid question. in general except for radio media is so underdeveloped here. and even radio…there’s nothing llke NPR or the BBC.

  2. Also I’m not necessarily arguing for regional papers to do without advertising. Merely to have certain standards in place that advertisers must adhere to. Just as the ratio of ads to news content on the front page of print newspapers is carefully regulated so must online newspapers carefully design and regulate their landing pages. To have them looking like landing pages for circuses or glittery trade fairs doesn’t redound to their credibility. It costs very little to design a credible landing page.

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