Tuesday, September 18, 2012

USAT | A possible glimpse of traffic on beta site

How's readership of the new beta version of USA Today's website since it launched on Saturday?

Last night's headline-grabbing story about presidential candidate Mitt Romney's 47%-are-dependents may offer a clue. On the version posted at usatoday.com, there are now 258 reader comments.

But on the same story published to beta.usatoday.com, there are just three. (Could this simply be a problem with comment display?)

To be sure, the beta site isn't the default version readers will see in the future when they go to www.usatoday.com. Still, editors are promoting it heavily on the homepage.

The Romney story has also sparked lots of comments at other large dailies, although The Wall Street Journal is lagging big time:

See print No. 3
Here's a .pdf of today's print front page, the third since the redesign's debut. What do you think?

Please post your replies in the comments section, below. To e-mail confidentially, write jimhopkins[at]gmail[dot-com]; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the rail, upper right.


  1. Could someone please summarize the social media marketing strategy for USA Today's redesign launch?

  2. I believe a whistle was used yesterday. They're not running out of ideas already, are they?

    The whistle could be for the refs story, or for the USA Editorial team blowing the whistle on Mitt for making comments about the 47 percenters.

  3. I really can't believe it. Balls aside, the layout gets worse every day.

  4. 9:03 Yes: Someone posted here that a whistle was used yesterday with the Sports section logo.

  5. The time element in the beta site story is wrong--the story is time stamped "Sept. 18, 7:33 a.m."--the time element still says "tonight." The regular USAT Web site story still has "tonight", although it's time stamped Sept. 17. I believe this lack of editing and attention to quality, to correctness, has helped erode confidence in USAT, Gannett and its USCP papers.
    I'm ready for the haters to say I'm nitpicking, that this kind of thinking is outmoded--but guess what? The NYT, WSJ and WaPo all have correct time elements, reflecting that the news happened Monday.

  6. Apparently the term "beta" is unfamiliar to many here.

  7. The "beta" site is just that -- a test site where bugs and issues can and will be fixed. there are quite a few fixes that need to be made. That's why it is a beta site.

    Everything pointed out here so far at the blog has been a known issue they are trying to resolve. Thank you for noticing, though. it helps.

  8. Maybe I'm naive, but even if it is a beta site, why would we be promoting it on the old site if it's still so raw? I've been involved with other beta testing where it stays beta but isn't promoted until it's a little smoother.

  9. USAT is a mess. If not for the work of those who built the brand's reputation, the "evolution" that were currently seeing would be viewed as something less than credible by serious consumers of news. Maybe the public will eventually figure out how second-rate USAT is now, but that realization has already come to fruition in the journalism community. USAT is going to have to pay some big bucks to get well-qualified people to want to work there. Bad product moving in the wrong/silly direction, increasingly rotten reputation for how it treats employees and a high-cost of living area -- not exactly great recruiting points. Warning to USAT job interviewees. Don't get fooled by the amenities of the Crystal Palace or the phony smiles. The place is train wreck.

  10. Re: Today's front page: What's up with the doglegging CP around the Newsline, which is in the middle of the page? Talk about fugly! If you're going to move the Newsline to accommodate the CP, at least move it to the bottom of the page across a few columns. Personally, I think the front-cover ball should mainly have a variant of the old globe design with room for an occasional variance, and save the inside balls for the cutesy treatment. What the heck, it just doesn't matter. The redesign isn't going to save print. I bought one of three copies (the only one) available at my office of 3,000 today. The clerk said as she went to ring up my purchase, "what is this, US Today? I'm surprised they're still selling this." Access to news is good, but print is just going away. It's like vinyl records. Some people still like them because of their aesthetic or because they like the way they sound, but they're still the medium of very few people.


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