Let’s start with the words of Donnacha who wrote the following in a discussion of the choice of Newspapers’ publishing software on the Internet:
This is why local newspapers are dying, not because technology was inevitably going to wipe them out but because journalists are so used to superficially skimming the details and coming to trite conclusions rather than bothering to actually understand things – decades of poor journalism echoed in bad business decisions.
The Internet isn’t killing newspapers, it could have been a huge boon to them, they are committing suicide.
Obviously, I don’t have access to the backend of The Concord Monitor but, seriously, I could whip up something more stylish, easier to maintain and with a better publishing work-flow in one day by simply building upon a good Genesis theme, Justin Tadlock’s Members plugin, Gravity Forms, Yoast’s SEO and a few other old reliables. I have seen the “professional” tools that cost crazy amounts and they are way behind the best of WordPress.
The problem, and I come across this all the time, is that companies have experienced such horrific abuse from their previous CMSes that they simply can’t believe this stuff can actually be easy and, of course, there’s usually some lazy IT guy in the background, worried that his cover will be blown, persuading them that they need to pay fifty grand for a “professional solution” – this is why the “WordPress is for blogging” meme refuses to die, because a lot of people are making a living from it. When clients are clueless – and print journalists tend to be surprisingly technophobic – such manipulation becomes standard practise, it’s an industry-wide Stockholm Syndrome.
Unfortuantely, this makes me immediately think of Kenya’s very own Financial Post.
The Financial Post’s website, in my humble opinion is woeful. It is broken. It is a shame. Sadly, for as long as I can remember they have had that same exact website up. If the Financial post has any “IT” staff, one wonders why they exist. I also know for a fact that the Financial Post has received quite a number of proposals for their website’s improvement (including one from me years ago).
Why would any sensible organisation keep their website in such a state? To make matters worse, The Financial Post is a news organisation. They can earn significant amounts if only they had a stable, working website. Add to this the fact that there is no other major Kenyan news site offering the same kind of ‘financial news’ and you are left to wonder why they let this opportunity go.
In other countries, it is said that the newspaper and print industries may die. Perhaps it is not so in our Kenya. But is this really an excuse to sit back and do nothing? The Internet is relatively small in Kenya, but it is getting bigger. Soon enough, our own ‘print industry’ will be in real trouble. Is that the time when organisations like the “Financial Post” wake up?
I am sure that The Financial Post is just one of the many lethargic organisations in our newspaper industry. Apart from the big names – Daily Nation, Standard, etc – the rest are not doing anything significant online, are they? Donnacha’s words above come to mind, “The Internet isn’t killing newspapers, it could have been a huge boon to them, they are committing suicide“.
PS. The absolutely saddest thing is that any good web developer can turn www.financialpost.co.ke into a classy, beautiful website that earns money in about a week!!