Sunday, 5 August 2012

When a newspaper joke gets lost online

Every newspaper worth its salt has an online presence. Which is fantastic. And probably obligatory. But a print media company is doing more harm than good to itself if its system automatically uploads print articles to the internet.

Because print simply doesn't translate well online.

The art to page layout - using large headline fonts and pictures, and top to bottom positioning to denote news prioritisation - is lost when even the tiny 8-inch long story buried in the bottom left corner of the page gets its own web address.

And missing context can ruin what the paper stands for.

Take the example of this unfortunate article on The Hindu.  It appeared, presumably as a small column with a thumbnail in the lifestyle supplement of the paper, part of a regular 'how to' section, which is usually formatted to indicate that it's a light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek, humorous column.

While the humour in this piece is admittedly questionable for any medium, the point is completely lost on online visitors, who see an absurd, grammatically incorrect headline ("...get any girl to go out with you") amidst stories of drought and politicking.

Isn't that shooting yourself in the foot when the whole point of your recent marketing campaign was about how The Hindu "stays ahead of the times" without dumbing down news?

Being part of the team that's put in a lot of work into the print edition, it's a real pity to see the message lost in translation.
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