I went over to Cana News web site, and was disappointed to find:
- a) a simple thing like embedding the URL to the RSS feed in the header tags, so that RSS aware web browsers could dynamically add the link to their feeds, had not been done, and
- b) there were no RSS feed links anywhere on the site.
Of course, there are the logos for an RSS feed, and a text link, but they go nowhere. There are other dead logos as well; To “Photos”, “Forums”, and “Chat”.
I wonder how it is that such a venerable organisation, like so many of the Caribbean’s media corporations, still haven’t managed to grasp some elemental technologies and harness them for use in their online presence.
The only one who publishes a decent feed is the Trinidad Express. However, their feed is also not discoverable, and well their site design sucks so badly, its a wonder no one has told them this.
The Nation Newspaper’s feeds are paltry and again, not discoverable. On a happy note, the Jamaica Gleaner does have a discoverable feed, but alas, their layout needs an upgrade badly.
I do not want to tell you how woeful both the Barbados Advocate, and the Trinidad Guardian’s online presences are. At least the Advocate is using a database/scripting solution (even if it is sadly Cold Fusion), the Guardian is still generating a flat HTML site, in a layout that was dated even when it was launched.
Who advises these corporations on their web development strategies, their online marketing plans? It seems as though they could ALL benefit from a rethink if they really intend to compete against the army of bloggers empowered by the Internet.
In 2003, I facilitated a workshop on online journalism for Rage Jamaica, and I remember that then I stressed the availability of the technology, and how best to exploit it so anyone who could string a few sentences together and had a mind to do it, could.
Yet, as green and amateur as those would-be journalist who attending my workshop that day were, these large media houses in the Caribbean are largely as clueless. They do not understand the power of the Internet yet, and are neglecting their web sites in favour of pouring money into a dead tree version of their content, that will soon die.
In a recent post over at Caribbean Collective, Amanda Lynch-Foster asks “Are we killing the newspaper?”,
So it leaves me, the young journalist and aspiring publisher with a bit of a dilemma. I have always made clear my intentions to eventually own my own publication. When I set my goals, I did not anticipate the explosion of the internet and its swift impact on my trade. So should I even bother to throw my hat in with the printed press anymore?
I commented as well,
I say let traditional media die. I think they were mandated to be the public watchdog, but in fact serve corporate and political interests with far more alacrity than they do the interests of the common man.
I think blogs and blogging and other online mediums can and should take the place of traditional media, if only because it saves trees — but also because having been a journalist, and in fact a member of this Caribbean Collective, I do not think that traditional journalism is doing the job anymore and it’s up to those of us who have the will and creativity to write, to speak out.
Where is the Ocean Park story? Where is the story about the boy missing in Farley Hill? Where is the coverage of the Roy Morris Rape case? Where is the coverage of anything other that uber-right arch conservative overly-Xtian BLP propaganda in the Barbadian press? Just isn’t there?
In the Caribbean, my comments go beyond merely issues with the way in which newspapers and television houses are currently only appearing to serve their communities, its also how their under-representing the Caribbean online as well. If the Third World divide could be more evident, compare these Caribbean media houses mentioned above, with say The Telegraph, or the Washington Post.
They just aren’t keeping up, because the old boy network is still thinking the ball game is the same. If one more person says some ignorant shit like, “Well this is Barbados, not America,” I think my tongue will run away before I get control of it. I think I need to point out, that this is America. We are in the Americas. But aside from that, there is absolutely no reason why such substandard online presences should be continued and maintained. The technology is awesomely available and accessible, and instead of paying for it to make the users experience so rewarding and building strong online brands for their content, they’re going along to get along and doing the minimum required.
It’s why blogs like Barbados Free Press and Bajan Reporter, are now so insanely popular, and how a serious chunk of Barbadians who use the Internet go there to get their news.
Let them die…. this is an evolving world, and if a little thing like decent RSS feeds can’t be achieved across the board, four years after they become standard on even the most basic of content-driven sites, then I say it’s time for these big Caribbean media houses to die.
Maybe then, out of its ashes, a stronger sense of journalism can emerge. One truer to the purpose of journalism, to be society’s mirror, its watchdog and protector.