One Obstacle to Online-Only Media


Online-only news sites may be better positioned than than traditional print newspapers because at least they don’t have heavy production costs of the latter. Of course, online-only outlets also shed revenue streams, too.

But one major challenge to online-only media is that a lot of sites have mediocre search engines. Currently, it can be very difficult to search the websites of these print outlets to find online versions of articles that appeared in the print edition.

Twice this morning, I looked online for articles I had cut out from the print edition of two different outlets. And twice, I could not find the articles using those sites’ search engine. Instead, I had to leave the site — which they can’t really want — go to Google, and then found the article I wanted.

One of the sites I checked is a subscription-only site, and yet their search engine for subscribers (and I am one) is truly lacking. Clearly that’s a problem.

If the intent of online-only — an eventuality for which all print newspapers and magazines should be preparing themselves — is to enable users to find all content being produced by the outlet, then finding articles should be easy, not be complicated.

There’s a lot of work to be done here, with a lot of sites not doing the work to make their archives and current content available to the public.


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