First of all, please join in in welcoming Bris Isaak into the fold finally. We're expecting his second post in approximately 4 months.
When Duké told me Recordnet.com had won an award I thought he misspoke and was actually talking about 209Vibe.com, which is an outstanding site. Then he showed my the half page ad they took out to blow themselves over it and I still can't believe it. Something's fishy. Why? Because as we've stated time and time again, Recordnet.com sucks a bag of dicks. But instead of focusing on the negative like we tend to do, we got the brain trust together and came up with 5 basic things Recordnet needs to do to actually be mentioned anywhere near the word "award". Unless it's an award for frustrating unnavigability. (Yes, this list is still painfully negative, but at least it's constructive criticism this time)
1. Linkback to relevant stories
This has to be one of the most frustrating things they do that's easily fixable. Let's use the recent Stockton Rodeo debacle as an example. Here's the Record's story about the Rodeo being called off/postponed/whatever the fuck they're doing. Now, if you happened to miss the Record's story about the Rodeo coming to Stockton (like Duké did) or perhaps saw the word "Rodeo" and skipped the story completly (like I did), then when you saw the story about it's cancellation your reaction was probably similar to ours. "What fucking rodeo?" The story on the Record's website doesn't linkback to the original story about the Rodeo so you have no idea how some hick duped the city council into giving him $75,000. (Hint: Bring a cowboy hat)
2. Have the search engine organize results in a way that makes sense
So since Recordnet doesn't post a link to the story a followup story is actually following up, your next option is using their search feature. For a story about the Stockton Rodeo it would make sense to just type in the words "Stockton" and "Rodeo". Here's what you get when you do. The first page is all links to the rodeo being called off. Three of those stories have nothing to do about the rodeo. They just happened to contain the link to the story about it's cancellation, so putting quotations around the words "Stockton Rodeo" to narrow the search down to just stories that contain the phrase Stockton Rodeo together won't work.
3. Quit telling us to read about a breaking story in the paper tomorrow
When the rodeo cancellation broke, I found out about it through 209Vibe's Twitter. Ian Hill had an entire story up on the 209Vibe.com. What did the Record have? They told us to come back tomorrow. What's the point of even having a website if you're not going to break already broken news? The reason print journalism is going the way of the dinosaur is for reasons like this. People want their news and they want it fucking now. Telling someone to read about it in the paper on your website is a dickish move to begin with, but at least we understand the reason is that The Record is clearly still dedicated to the pulpy version of news than the current generation of journalism. But if you're going to then post David Siders' story on the website when Ian Hill had already written it a day earlier, that's just spitting in the face of a guy who alrady broke a semi-important story. (We're still debating whether or not anybody should be crestfallen that we'll be denied a rodeo in 08.) And putting that Hill contributed to the story at the end doesn't make up for the fact that Recordnet.com refused to give him his daps.
4. Put your news stories in some discernible order
Let's get away from the rodeo now and focus on something Duké mentioned earlier. (See, a linkback, html isn't that hard. Promise.) He wrote about the story that was on the front page of the Record about the prison guard union trying to recall Gov. Schwarzenegger. Considering our proximity to the state capitol and the amount of time the average Stocktonian spends around prison guards, you'd think this would be a fairly important story. Too bad you'd only read about it if you got the print version of the Record. The story was nowhere in the Recordnet news section. You will however see the stories about the 1-5 crash and Stockton PD blowing up a dufflebag full of clothes (way to earn that raise guys) listed twice! I assumed it was because they only listed stories they wrote and left the AP stuff to the AP. But then I saw not one, not two, but eight AP stories in that same list. The most locally relevant of which was about the morgatge crisis. Go figure. Alright, let's round out this list.
5. User driven content!
This is the most frustrating out of any of the things on this list, it's just not as easily fixable as the first item on the list. It's also one of the simplest ideas of all time. People want to give their opinion on shit to other people. (Hey, I wonder if that'd make for a good website...) The reader feedback used to be a decent feature because it appeared on the same page as the story, made it kind of easy if you needed to reference something in the story. They moved them to the forums probably because most of the time the reader reaction at the bottom of the story was negative towards the Record (Which is actually how I got the idea for this place). Past the forums though, there's no real reader driven content. You can submit photos for them to put up, but you'll only see them if they fit into one of the categories. Look at the rest of the Reader Interaction Homepage. You don't interact worth a shit, it's just their fancy word for "internety" stuff. You can read a bunch of blogs that are updated once every equinox. You can suggest a poll? Buy a photo? Is that really interacting? Buying a photo from the record is interacting like buying a cheeseburger from McDonald's is "interacting" with Ronald McDonald. And it's not like Stocktonians don't want to contribute. 209Vibe thrives off of user contributions and they're run by the Record! (Note: We don't include 209Vibe.com as part of the recordnet.com site's user driven content because for all intents and purposes, it's about as separate from the Record as we are. The only difference is Ian Hill also works for the Record from time to time) In non-San Joaquin Media Group sites, Stockton's creative side still comes bursting out. You ever type Stockton into YouTube? Here, we did it for you. You're saying that can't easily be put into a YouTube channel and put on the Recordnet's website? Hell, I think we might have just done that here with that fucking link.
Now, that isn't all that's wrong with recordnet.com. (#6 would have been "Fire Lori Gilbert", but that's not really the website's domain.) I'm sure if we tried we could find a lot more, but we're starting to feel like we're picking on their webmaster. We don't want to, but we're the audience you're trying to reach, information junkies who get their news mainly on the internet. When print finally dies, all you're going to have is that website. And when it comes to that we want it to be good. Same reason we criticize the paper version of the Record, we just want it to be good.