What the Globe's doing with boston.com will blow you away

The Globe made it kinda, sorta official today: boston.com is becoming their BuzzFeed/Huffington Post/Upworthy clone - people who want straight news should head immediately to bostonglobe.com.

The move's been in the works for some time now. First came the slide shows and the listicles. The Globe recently hired a couple of reporters to do pretty much the same thing I'm doing here with social-media scouring - only they get to go farther afield than wacky Boston (like writing up a listicle of nine crazy Malaysian jetliner theories).

Still, I admit it, I was taken aback this afternoon to see this headline: A woman got called fat on the T and you won’t believe what a bystander did next (yes, for the same Craigslist rant I wrote about).

Oy, I thought. And then because I have to express my inner monologue in public, naturally, I tweeted:

Jesus. This is an actual Globe headline: "A woman got called fat on the T and you won’t believe what a bystander did next" My jaw dropped.

Reaction from Morrissey Boulevard was swift:

Hilary Sargent, boston.com news editor, replied:

You people don't understand a good inside joke.

A Globe correspondent added:

FWIW, that's only on Boston.com, the Globe's younger, more viral-oriented sibling.

Well, then. But, apparently, to deal with humorless old hacks, they've changed the headline to: "A woman got called fat on the T and you won’t believe what a bystander did next (actually, you will believe it)"

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    Comments

    I'm confused

    Is the Boston.com headline a satirical poke at Buzzfeed-style "news" sites, or are they really going in that direction, Sargent is embarrassed about it, and so is pretending it's a joke?

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    Or...

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    My twitter feed/facebook page/website got hacked.

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    Meh

    In December I was selected to go to the Globe and give feedback on the new Boston.com website and App they were working on. I wasn't very impressed with with it. Tons of ads, non-news stories and a bad layout life Huff News.

    It was too busy for my liking. I just want up to date local news, not too much to ask.

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    Meh is right..

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    as long as old media hacks insist in thinking it is just finding the right tech fix for a fundamentally flawed model that amounts to mediocritization, Adam is probably fine.

    Those of us who endured decades of conceited down dumbing from overpaid shills are not going back to that crap when we have a story stream served up straight with a slice of wordplay.

    It's over and there are surely more honest and useful ways for the treeware cadre to wind down their career years.

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    I've been seeing "Share Your

    I've been seeing "Share Your Pet Photos"/"Best Chinese Food In Boston"/Gawker-style headlines for years on Boston.com. Is a Buzzfeed-style redesign in the works, too?

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    Goes beyond people who look like their dogs

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    Because in the old days boston.com was a place to go for breaking news in addition to slideshows, but now, it's becoming more of a HuffPo-type aggregator - and yes, apparently a new design is nigh.

    The stuff the new reporters write is collected on the Source and then slotted as appropriate on the home page.

    Coupled with the new nytimes-type porous paywall, what they're doing actually makes some sense: There shouldn't be any more confusion between boston.com and bostonglobe.com, and the hip new boston.com potentially becomes a way to tap into a national market, if they can figure out how to out-Buzzfeed Buzzfeed, or even just get to a reasonable approximation of it (see, for example, ViralNova, which is just an Upworthy clone).

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    The Source lies, and sucks

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    The source says that it is news you need to read right now. But it never has news you need to read right now. So the basic premise is a lie. Not that anyone reads it or cares.

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    She used to do New England

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    She used to do New England Dream House and TV Diner on NECN for many years until Comcast killed the programs. Had been a host and producer of other local TV programs.

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    Jenny Johnson also has a new weekly NESN

    show called "Dining Playbook", co-hosted with Billy Costa. It takes the TV Diner format and adds a sport-personality flavor to it. She's more of an on-camera talent now, but she was the production and directing brains behind TV Diner for most of its run, not just a pretty face.

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    But wait ...

    Here was a headline on the front page of the Sunday Globe — not Boston.com: "In South Boston, a parade story that may surprise you." Good story, too. But definitely Upworthy-worthy.

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    Apparently, Ms. Sargent

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    we do. Your website is actually the inside joke. I mean how many times a month do you run "Boston's best Chinese/Pizza/Burgers"?

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    Correction

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    That's Best Burger-Fuddrucker's They advertise on the Gourmet,, not Five Guys!

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    NO just NO

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    NO.. just NO.

    Please no. I'm seeing more and more "bostonDotBeta" stories and I don't like them. If I want to read Buzzfeed crap stories, I'll read BuzzFeed, not BDC. BuzzFeed is NOT news. I want NEWS, not fluff pieces or commentary written into pseudo articles. It's bad, just bad, and sloppy journalism.

    Sigh. I was just reading an article today about how facebook users are more willing share mis-information than actual facts. Great, so now we have BDC who is going post poorly written, opinionated articles that Facebook users will share it thinking it's the truth. The dumbing down of America... sigh.

    . o O (Is Winter over yet? I'm DYING to get outside and as far away from the computer and the internet as possible in my spare time... and to think I'm actually... hold it... hold it... considering getting a BIKE and BIKING for fun!!!!! *watches Mark & swirly burst into flames*) O o .

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    Thanks! :)

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    Thanks! (And you didn't explode)

    I'm familiar somewhat with all the bike stuff. I used to have one until I was door'd too many times.

    But I'm willing to take that risk again, although I will stick to mostly bike paths this time.

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    Lets be honest

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    Boston.com sucks and is sucking more and more every day. Sargent is famous for a website where she supposedly made "complicated stories easier to understand" by making them into charts with arrows and pictures. She put a great deal of work into it, updating it around once a month. She is also famous for twitter wars with other people.

    And this twitterette is now the news editor of boston.com !!?? Boston.com has just given up. Even the 20 something kids can figure out its just crap.

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    Chartgirl!

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    Boston.com hires ‘ChartGirl’ Hilary Sargent:

    Jack Shafer wrote earlier this year that “ChartGirl” Sargent “straddles the space between the two-dimensional, black-and-white editorial cartoon, the explanatory feature and the cheat sheet, bringing order to the narrative frenzy.”

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    This says it all

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    Sargent is famous for a website where she supposedly made "complicated stories easier to understand" by making them into charts with arrows and pictures.

    This says it all.. the dumbing down of America, brought to you by "ChartGirl"

    Sorry if you need a picture to understand a complicated story, maybe you need to go back and retake your r e a d i n g c o m p r e h e n s i o n classes.

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    Yep

    And why organizations involved in academic communications - particularly scientific communications - are now specifying minimum requirements for graphics and figures.

    I guess The National Academies are just "dumbing down" everything. Yup.

    But some people think being obscure makes them smarter or makes them seem smarter, rather than making them look like people with poor communication skills.

    (Some junior investigator just learned this the hard way).

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    Just outta curiousity

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    where did I say academia, Swirly and Scratchie?

    Nowhere. We're talking news articles. Try to stay on topic.

    And since you brought up academia, let's talk readability...

    the readability of U.S. newspapers went from the 16th to the 11th-grade level, where it remains today.

    The two publications with the largest circulations, TV Guide (13 million) and Readers Digest (12 million), are written at the 9th-grade level.[5] The most popular novels are written at the 7th-grade level. This supports the fact that the average adult reads at the 9th-grade level.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Readability

    So one could say that the average person should be able to read at a 9th grade level, correct?

    Now back to my point, if you need a chart or a picture because you can't understand a 9th grade reading level, maybe we have a problem with literacy in America?

    Why write copy at a reading level that people can read and understand, when we can just hand hold them with pretty pictures and what not, right? (/sarcasm)

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    It isn't about literacy

    It is about how some information is naturally much more clearly and intuitively conveyed in a visual form. It has nothing to do with reading skills, and everything to do with some basic preferences and limitations of the human brain.

    Graphics are a very strong way to convey relational information. Where they fail is that they can get too "busy" - too many attempts to inject nuance and you are sunk.

    Ever hear of Edward Tufte? http://www.edwardtufte.com/tufte/

    He has been a pioneer and exponent of proper use of graphics to convey information: http://www.amazon.com/Envisioning-Information-Edward-R-Tufte/dp/0961392118

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    OK. Correct.

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    Sure, I understand that. You're talking to someone who does business process flow in Visio all the time. So I understand the need to convey something using graphics because it is far easier than long form (i.e. written out). I've done my work in long form, it's not fun. So I get your point 100%.

    But as far as news.. I'm not so sure if a chart in the manner that ChartGirl is using is way to go. I just see this as hand holding people and spoon feeding the information to people. Why make the brain work, when mommie is going to spoon feed it to you? We survived centuries without graphics and just had simple text, I think we can survive with just an article and not graphic explaining the Aaron Hernandez trial! (as displayed on ChartGirl's website)

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    Check out this girls twitter account

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    Yeah I called her a girl. That's what she calls herself, "chartgirl". Her twitter account is just a bunch of high school level insults and then getting angry at people who don't understand her "humor". You know, the type who says "whatever" to everyone. But because Time magazine called her important, the Globe hired her.

    This exposure on Uhub will do wonders for her click count. Whats the over under on how many days she lasts at boston.com?

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    210 Billion with a B

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    was what NYT paid for the Globe.

    Some might argue they milked a lot of profit from it before they dumped it for 78 million with an M.

    And the suitor is running it as a sort of charity hobby.

    It is still a top down hierarchy with top heavy costs, a fat bottom line and shit for brains.

    And yet it is still ahead of the Herald.

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    Chris Caesar

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    They also have hired Chris Caesar who used to do a fairly respectable job as editor of Malden Patch. This actually seems to be, somehow, a downgrade.

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    you'll never guess what this lady thinks about your headlines

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    Because if you did guess, then maybe you would stop using them!

    uuuuughhhhhh. The Upworthy-style headlines make me absolutely furious. I am 100% their target demographic for their content, but I almost always refuse to click on their stories when I see my friends sharing them on Facebook because I am just so.freaking.annoyed by the headlines. sometimes I'll even search for the information on Google or youtube just so I can avoid taking their click bait. Tell me what the article/video is about in your headline. That's what I want to know. don't waste my freaking time. They must have a pretty good traffic rate or they would change their headlines, but they might get an even better traffic rate if they didn't drive so many people away by refusing to use grammar properly. Although, maybe they're just after the low-hanging fruit, which is sadly become the majority. The growing masses of mindless souls will click on the bait, but they won't click on a clear, concise headline. As a self-proclaimed millennial with an internet addiction, who isn't ashamed to spend a portion of my day looking at cute animals and stupid Buzzfeed crap, I really prefer a little bit more intelligence in my entertainment "news." I'm just annoyed to see Boston.com go down this road. Hasta la never, Boston.com!

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    Doesn't Hold A Candle To Universal Hub

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    This so-called "new" BostonGlobe.com site is just another reshuffled mess of mostly useless stories from other sources on the web. It's certainly not something that can be relied upon for up-to-the-minute local news. Universal Hub is far superior; both in the initial reporting of stories, and the very thoughtful discussion from real people in the community who contribute additional relevant details, background information, and intelligent opinions.

    I'll glance at other news outlets to see what they're putting out, but when I want the latest local news, Universal Hub is the first place to look; it is truly a treasure!

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    I'm okay with gimmicky, click-baity headlines if

    the content underneath it is worthwhile and intelligent. This is what happens when the Internet breaks the old print daily newspaper model; giving shit away for free clearly isn't a viable business model. The Globe is going behind a NY Times-style paywall; how do you cover the cost of BDC content creation and make a profit if not with click-driven advertising?

    As ever, the proof of the pudding will be in the eating. If they hire reporters and writers who are worth a damn, and let them do intelligent reporting and writing, I can forgive tabloidy, exploitative ways of getting me to read their work.

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    Why does it need click baity

    Why does it need click baity headlines? If its a good story, I want to read it because its a good story. If you tell me the main plot of your story in the headline, I'll either decide to read it or not. My page view does not necessarily mean I read your story or looked at any of the ads on your page.

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    You should start a

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    You should start a kickstarter campaign and run your own media hub that can grow to become a force not unlike the influence the big papers have in town. Bipolarity between the Herald and the Globe can only last so long. I've been reading universalHub for years now, and I'd sure say I want to see this site to grow something beautiful out of the grassroots. I've learned a lot more about this city through some of the people who regularly post here, albeit some of the snarky commentary is a little pedantic. But whatever, it gives this site its personality--and I think it can go beyond this.

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    Great...

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    I can't wait for their "Ten best cityscapes" series every Monday now (as seen on Boston Reddit).

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    Upworthy is so 2013

    Upworthy-style headlines are a fad, and a fading one too. By this time next year I expect that Upworthy and all of its clones will have either closed down, or remade themselves into something more useful.

    Copying a dying trend is not the right way for Boston.com to reinvent itself.

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    Alternatives?

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    So if people want to vote with their clicky fingers, what are the alternatives besides UHub? Patch sites are ever more flaccid. The Herald has its own issues. The TV stations are more concerned with visuals and soundbites than substance. I've added Boston magazine's news blog to my mix lately, but it's not intended to be a news feed for Boston. I hit up the Guardian and WaPo for decent reporting on national and international news. I think I'm like a lot of people in that Twitter has become my source on breaking news.

    What do others do?

    Shocking Truth: Former Globe reader says "I'd rather read the...

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    I'd rather read the Boston Herald. At least it is still a real newspaper.

    This week I foolishly clicked on an article on boston.com about Flight 370 and read an article about a theory (about an electrical fire) that had been dismissed at least seven days ago. Bad enough to have a lack of news, but fake news??

    I look at Universal Hub when I need to know what's going on in Boston, especially a major incident like the hit-and-run accident yesterday. If I want to read newspaper articles I look at the Washington Post, NY Times or Boston Herald.

    I am DONE with boston.com. At least now they have officially admitted that they aren't a newspaper.

    You know they're separating BostonGlobe.com and

    Boston.com to make the Boston Globe more like a real newspaper again, and separate the cheesy viral stuff out into Boston.com, right? But it will be like the NY Times or the WSJ, with most of the serious content behind a paywall.

    Today's boston.com upworthish clickbait

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    "Pepe's is coming to Boston and you don't know how amazing that is". By the way, Pepe's is not amazing.

    So would that be real clickbait, or a joke that we don't understand? The lunatics are running the asylum and that is amazing.