Regarding Democrat and Chronicle Publisher Michael Kane's recent appointment as new publisher at The Indianapolis Star, a reader says in an especially smart comment about the new GO4 website design for Gannett's community newspapers:
"GO4's templates and structure and technology approach is horrible for innovation. While part of the concept was to foster innovation and flexibility by allowing sites to leverage content and presentation assets from other sites, achieving that is as much a fantasy as sites being able to share content seamlessly through Saxotech. GO4 is a clusterfuck, and the reason why is execution, not intent. There is a fundamental lack of the right skills in the right places at GMTI, Gannett Digital and throughout local markets. The new GO4 code is a mess. Gannett Digital and GMTI made some bad founding decisions early on. Resources have been too strained to implement, debug, support or improve the GO4 deployment.
"Virtually every site's traffic growth has seen slowed, diminished or even reversed since launching the GO4 redesign. While some blame is correctly to be laid at the fact that redesigns upset usage habits, especially of older users, this excuse is way too often cited, especially by folks at Gannett Digital. A good redesign should boost traffic, not decrease it. Tons of experiences throughout the Web industry prove this. I cannot underscore the cost being felt throughout Gannett local markets in terms of lost opportunity, declining audience growth, staff demoralization and eventually potential slowed gains in market share -- all as a result of the new GO4 sites being generally slow, hard to navigate and harder to use."
Good news is only news
The comment continues: "Keeping the extent of the problem from being fully realized is the fact that Gannett's competitive culture means local markets tend to report their successess, not their failures, up to corporate. Monthly reports to corporate are filled with good news about the GO4 impact -- the negative realities, obvious to users and employees in local markets -- is downplayed or not presented to Digital at all. And so, we cling to the tiniest shreds of good news, such as diminutive changes in demographic and dwelltime trendlines, while site after site whose traffic has grown 25%-50% year-over-year for years on end suddenly find themselves below or flat with last year's traffic."
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[Image: a screenshot of a recent Democrat and Chronicle homepage]