U-T San Diego runs 2-week-old online story on front page

San Diego Free Press
When Doug Porter read the distinctive lead in a story on today’s front page of the U-T San Diego, it sounded so familiar, he thought it had been plagiarized, he writes. But no, it was simply recycled; the paper originally published the story online on June 19. “That’s one way to save money, I guess,” Porter wrote.

Here’s the unusual lead, written by Steve Schmidt, whose voice mail says he is on vacation until July 9:

“Fresh from the freaky-but-true files: Michele Scott and Andrew E. Kaufman are both writers. Both specialize in thrillers and mysteries. Both are on Amazon best-seller lists. His initials are AK. She often writes under the name A.K. Alexander.”

Hieu Phan, an editor with the news organization, explained by email:

As for the time difference between online and print platforms, U-T San Diego believes we are a multimedia company that is online first. So we typically (there can be exceptions) publish stories online when they are ready, then run them in print either on the next day or later.

Two weeks is a long lag, homepage editor Tom Mallory acknowledged by phone, usually it’s just a day or two before pieces published online appear in print. But “it’s a nice timeless feature, there’s no pressing timeliness to it.”

Gordon Murray, who designed the front page, concurred. “Sometimes feature stories that are posted online take awhile to appear in print, because news pushes the feature back. There is limited space in the printed newspaper, but not so online,” he said by email.

In a larger sense, the gap was a result of a publishing strategy that has been working for the news organization, Mallory said: “Our publication for the newspaper and the Web are not on the same paths.”

Instead, reporters and editors work on a story, and “they will publish it to the Web when it’s ready, and they will offer it up and schedule it for the newspaper; but we don’t view the fact that it already ran online as damaged goods.”

U-T San Diego is practicing digital first journalism.

“We’ve never had a reader complain about this — that a story appeared on the Web on a Tuesday and in the paper on a Saturday,” Mallory said. That may be because the two have separate audiences. “I think if you draw two circles, they intersect a little bit.”

Make that three audiences, if you count mobile separately. “We’ve found it’s best to align our iPad app more with the newspaper than the desktop Web,” he said. “It’s a more ‘sit back’ experience.”

This is not reverse publishing, Mallory said. “Paper to Web is reverse publishing; Web to print is the way God intended it to be.”

The story that appears on the bottom of today’s front page, “Jamul Writers Discover They’re on the Same Page,” was first published online June 19. The story is published twice online, once with a July 5 publication date and once with a June 19 date. That’s an artifact of the publishing system that separates newspaper stories from Web stories, said homepage editor Tom Mallory by phone.

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  • Anonymous

     But monetizing the online version is high on their priority list at this time. Most likely that “is the way God intended it to be”

  • Anonymous

     But monetizing the online version is high on their priority list at this time. Most likely that “is the way God intended it to be”

  • http://profiles.google.com/wenalway Robert Knilands

    Don’t take this as a criticism, but a page designer is not an editor. A page designer is really not even a journalist.

  • http://profiles.google.com/wenalway Robert Knilands

    Then there should be a note saying the story appeared first online. Even mediocre papers do this.

  • dagobarbz

    Clearly, our paper is using “newsburger filler” to pad out its already ad-bloated dead tree version. I would find this odd, but for the fact that hometown papers are little more than news recyclers these days. One paper was in the news recently for trying to outsource local stories to…the Phillipines!!1!!!

    The interesting thing about the Union Tribune’s business model is how it is quickly alienating the very people who still buy the dead tree edition.

    By shrinking comics to fit on less paper, by reducing font size to gain a few inches, they make it more difficult for their aging consumers to enjoy their morning paper experience. When your eyes ain’t what they used to be, 9 point text is nearly impossible to read in a cheaply printed page.

    Clearly, U-T owner Doug Manchester, some rich Republican who busily thinks gays shouldn’t be allowed to marry, is establishing some microcosmic Fox News Nation media empire in San Diego. He’s got some channel running on Cox Cable, which his paper touts.

    Oddly, the paper seems to be avoiding his name, preferring the “owner of the U-T” instead. Pretty covert.

    All that aside, if the U-T online version tried to charge, they’d lose. Most of the decent writing is imported, and the gaggle of interns and junior reporters are kind of lazy and can’t spell.

    Monetizing their website is probably not an option. So it makes no sense to degrade the print edition and lose the customer base they have left.

    The “media empire” appears to be nothing more than a little local right wing noise factory, starring San Diego’s B-list version of Rush Limbaugh, Roger Hedgecock; a man whose history with the city is not exactly stellar.

    It will be interesting to see how long Doug Manchester’s baby is going to survive in an increasingly digital world.

  • http://twitter.com/SirSoSoon SoSoon

    “web to print is the way god intended it to be” hilarious

  • Anonymous

    Web first is great for nonsubscribers, but certainly not great for those who pay money to subscribe to the print newspaper. I can understand it for breaking news, but aren’t you shooting yourself in the foot if there is nothing the print subscriber can count on getting first?

  • Anonymous

    somebody doesn’t read his own paper & web page.

  • Phỏng Ảo Văn

    thanks you for shear! i like


  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BDVBJFCDH7LEWBUN3HMUQFVOKU Renfield

    Two editors defend incompetence with web-savvy gibberish.