Philly.com ‘doesn’t much like news’

Former Philadelphia Inquirer metro columnist Tom Ferrick calls Philly.com “an anomaly among the newspaper-related web sites in America in that it doesn’t much like news.” The people behind the site know they can’t get millions of unique visitors with news stories, he says, because “news is dull.” They think, “Sports is better. Gossip is better still. Showing a woman with big breasts is good.” That harms the print newspapers, says Ferrick.

The Inquirer and Daily News are brands built on good journalism — and good journalistic practices. Their value is in their truthfulness and reliability.

Philly.com doesn’t share those values. It doesn’t work under the same rules. Therefore, it runs the risk of pulling the papers down to its level. That cheapens the brand.

Philly.com editor Wendy Warren tells me that Ferrick is wrong about Philly.com staffers’ view of news.

“I want to make emphatically clear that news is the lifeblood of philly.com — we absolutely care very much about news.” She points out this morning’s lead stories on the site are about a priest’s trial, an FBI sting, and the Trayvon Martin case.

There have been cheerleader galleries on the site, but “finding a balance between light and heavy is something journalists have done in my 20 years in the business and certainly before that,” says Warren.

“News is what brings people back to the site and we are extremely conscious of that. We have increased our staffing for breaking news” and will continue to. “News could not be more important to us.”

* Freak Show: Tom Ferrick on Philly.com

Comments

comments

3 comments
  1. jrhmobile said:

    Actually, I’d tend to argue exactly the opposite point. There’s no reason why a paper’s website should mirror its printed content. In fact, I’d maintain that if you want the print product to survive, it should be exactly the opposite.

    “Capturing the keystroke” and “repurposing content” instead of reporting the news of the day is what’s commoditized news reporting in the U.S. and helped send newspapers down the road to ruin. Paywalls be damned — if you want to destroy your newspaper’s circulation, make sure that your website contains exactly the same information your paper’s news hole and diminish the value of both products.

  2. baycommuter said:

    I agree with jrh. boston.com makes the differentiation the most clearly, emphasizing clicky stuff while splitting out the newspaper website and making bostonglobe.com a pay site.

  3. Amanda said:

    “We absolutely, very much care about news.” Would be nice if the search function worked. Would be nice if you could search for a story by the reporter’s byline. Would be nice if reporters who did responsible, fact-based, in-depth work (the School Violence series, etc) got more support instead of publishing lame, phone-it-in stories that fail to provide key context (eg the recent articles on PA’s new texting-while-driving law. Barely mentioned was the fact that this “compromise” legislation overrode, and eviscerated, local ordinances on cell phone use when driving. Never mind actually citing some research on safety!). There is an enormous news gap in this city and it is not getting filled. Maybe somebody should do a study showing how many times pages get refreshed when locals are dying for updates on breaking news. That would probably drive more and better revenue than “unique visitors” who never come back.