lørdag, februar 23, 2008

online readability

I have been an avid newspaper buff since my early teens. My parents subscribed to Aftenposten and the local newspaper, and in my early years I read both tabloids VG and Dagbladet, as well as the montly popular science mag Illustrert Vitenskap. An naturally, as this is back in the modern stone age in terms of digital media I stuck to paper. I still read a lot of newspaper in print, I subscribe to Dagsavisen, a Norwegian Oslo-based newspaper, as well as buying the Friday edition of Aftenposten.

There has been a lot of talk and discussion on the "paper-less society" after the year 2000, and we still read paper-based media. But changes are often slow, and especially people's habits - like newspaper reading. Encyclopedias are contemplating ending issuing paper edition and only be available online like the mammoth German encyclopedia Brockhaus. The neverending debate over wether Wikipedia is less reliable than Brittanica continues. And this has been the case for news in print vs. news online. News in print are more reliable than news online... But is this the case though?

With possibilities to keep updated on current events and breaking news online newsrooms always have an edge on the newspapers in print. And there are no reason for them to nullify each other. In many instances news corporations master to utilize the best of their printed newspaper in therms of analysis, in-depth interviews and commentary as well as a great display of photographs while their online version stays on top of things with news in brief live and with the hypertextuality of links and reader's comments and debates.

Personally I have realized how important font is to my reading eye. Font and my screen's capabilities are essential for a pleasant reading experience. In Norwegian language I find tabloids like VG and Dagbladet horrendous to read, it's too noisy and therefore I skim and hardly ever read. Dagsavisen has revamped their site into close to perfection with a lot of "white space" and a readable font. Morgenbladet is not far behind, but has still potential to be better. Aftenposten has lost me in both their printed edition and online - it's messy, cluttered and close to unreadable. Even though the content is of high quality it suffers in form.

Of international media I've grown fond of sites like New York Times, BBC World News and The Guardian - they all have great readability, are extensive and use fonts, "white space", photos and links in a formative way.

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