Thursday, November 6, 2014

Accessing All Access: It Ain't Easy

This is the old way newspapers ran. It worked.
My journalism colleague Anita Firebaugh had a Facebook post a little while ago, complaining that she cannot get the full access to The Roanoke Times All Access website (which she calls "one of the worst" she's ever experienced), even though she has been a full subscriber to the paper for 30 years. (Here's an explanation of All Access.)

Anita says The Times does not have an  e-mail address for her (that didn't exist when she began subscribing) and that calls to the office were met with "our system is down" bullshit. Her request could not be processed. The response to the post was universally frustrated for those trying to get access to TRT's All Access.

Glitches in new systems are not new at the paper. I remember well some years ago when The Times bought a new $36 million press and disassembled the old press and sold it before even testing the new one. Of course, the new one didn't work and the papers had to be sent to Greensboro for some time to be printed. During that time, Times technicians were learning to run the German press, with a team flown in from Germany to oversee it.

That was enormously expensive, embarrassing and telling for a company that couldn't shoot straight. The aim doesn't seem any better these days and the readers--growing fewer daily--are ready to do what I do: simply ignore TRT, for the most part. That's sad because the newspaper has traditionally been a good community's strongest and most cohesive feature. And, as I keep saying, the paper has some excellent journalists.


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