The Pencil Guy: Hourann's illogical blog

The West Online: lamez0r

Monday 9 October 2006 at 10:39 pm

Clearly freaked by News Limited’s move with PerthNow, some months ago The West Australian redesigned their web site. After a ridiculous promo on Saturday’s front page, today’s paper features a big full-pager informing everyone of how great the new site is.

Back when PerthNow was released, I dug into it for being behind the times. But guess what? For all today’s print fanfare, The West Online is even worse. Indeed, the kids at Vivid Group who built this site have clearly not used any decent online news service in the last, oh, five years or so.

Where to begin? The Community page, with its lame attempt to tell you everything while keeping you on The West’s site, reeks of a mid-90s “Web portal” play. Heck, the print ad even claimed it provides Transperth information (though I couldn’t find it) — cos you know, it’s not like that’s the job of Transperth’s own site or anything!

What’s more, the front page has a decidedly old-school design (no, we won’t show you all the stories up-front, you have to click on this silly little tab thingy!) and there’s no RSS feed. There are, however, promises that “interactive blogging opportunities” will come soon (ha!).

Meanwhile, the content still consists of only a few shovelware stories, without so much as the occasional picture to dim the monotony. By comparison, for all its still-starting-out-ness, PerthNorg already features more, and better, content than The West Online could ever hope for.

If this represents the best that can be had from a local web-dev firm, then it saddens me that there is such a big shortage of clue in this town.


Discoveries in my inbox: PerthNorg!

Friday 18 August 2006 at 11:01 pm

An intriguing discovery in my inbox this afternoon: an e-mail from Bronwen Clune, the founder of a flash-looking Web 2.0-ish news service called PerthNorg. While our other new online news service pays lip service to citizen journalism, this site takes a full-on WikiNews-style approach to local news.

PerthNorg There’s Digg-style voting as well (albeit with vote links that aren’t prominent enough) — I’ll definitely be doing that even if I don’t get around to submitting anything. This mix has confused a few people, although I think the implementation has been done pretty well for the majority of Perthurians who’ll have never heard of either. Oh, and I do love seeing proper use of Web standards!

I’d actually found out about PerthNorg last week via this post on a Sydney Morning Herald blog (the things you learn reading eastern states newspapers …). But I’ve been busy with honours and work, and marked it in my mind as something to blog about later, particularly seeing as it was so light on content.

The site is still light on content, albeit much less so than it was; I’m reluctant to add it to my feed reader until that changes. Indeed, Jeff Jarvis’ excitement aside, I’ve not seen many other localised news plays that are built solely out of user-generated content, so I do wonder whether it will take hold.

That said, PerthNorg does have a lot of promise and is definitely worthy of my recommendation — if only because it’s currently the one good hope we have of a decent quality news service in Western Australia :-)

(Meanwhile: also in my inbox today was an e-mail from Southern Coast Transit thanking me and promising a fix for a comment I made about bus drivers ‘logging off’ their trips before I could tag off my SmartRider … which I’d sent over a month ago!)

P.S. The lack of posting here hasn’t been an accident. Announcements are forthcoming, consider yourselves warned!


A new news service!

Sunday 25 June 2006 at 2:34 pm

Today’s Sunday Times spills much ink extolling the virtues of their new Web site, PerthNow. Finally, there is a vaguely half-decent, relatively frequently updated, online Western Australian news service!

(Behind the times? Us, in Perth? Never!)

Interestingly, several radio stations and Channel 9 Perth are jumping on the bandwagon, with the latter supposedly offering up news video … eventually. I wonder if that’s just a worried response to the fact that Channel 7’s Web site no longer sucks (as much) now that it’s run by Yahoo!?

That said, the execution of the new site leaves a bit to be desired. It doesn’t have its own domain name, it “embraces citizen journalism” by inviting people to e-mail in their photos, there are no direct links from the News Limited parent site, and the newspaper liftout has a huge article rabbitting on about blogs but the two (!) blogs on PerthNow are buried beneath several levels of links.

With Not The West having stopped the presses, and Aunty having only limited WA coverage, I guess WA journalism online will remain a wasteland for a while …