Bruce Murphy
Back in the News

Journal Sentinel Website Goes Generic

New site even more USA Today-like, a cookie cutter version of other Gannett papers.

By - Jun 23rd, 2020 03:24 pm
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Headquarters. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Headquarters. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Today was the D Day or make that G Day, as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel became even less of a local paper and more like a replica of USA Today, the flagship newspaper of the Gannett/Gatehouse company that owns the Milwaukee daily.

The new Journal Sentinel website, transformed today, looks nearly identical to other newspapers owned by Gannett, like the Cincinnati Enquirer or Arizona Republic or the Louisville Courier Journal.

It looks quite different than the old jsonline, which you can see the Google Wayback machine here. The old site looked more editorial, while the new one has a huge ad at the top of the page that gets far more prominence than the headlines.

The new site has reduced the size of some editorial photos to less than a postage-stamp in size and has dropped the link to “Watchdog” stories in the navigation bar. But then the JS does far fewer watchdog stories than in past years.

While deemphasizing the news, the new site’s nav bar upgrades sports further, going from just Sports to separate tabs for Sports and Packers. Go Green Bay!

The old site’s list of stories running down the left hand side now has smaller type size for headlines and divides stories into neat little boxes of News, Sports, Business, Communities, Entertainment, and everyone’s favorite — Life.

Gannett seems to allow only the smallest variations from the cookie cutter template: Thus the JS nav bar gets a Packers tab while the Courier Journal instead gets “Life” and the Arizona Republican gets “Things to Do”. But who needs that when there’s so many Packers stories to read?

The only surprise in all this is that the JS was able to hold out until now in changing fully to a cookie-cutter website. As of today it’s fully Gannett-sized and ready to run all those syndicated stories that the corporate algorithms show all Americans are sure to love.

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2 thoughts on “Back in the News: Journal Sentinel Website Goes Generic”

  1. hillard says:

    The number of ads on the JS website is absurdly onerous. Articles not only take forever to load because there are so many ads attempting to load all at once, but once the page finally loads you are constantly being involuntarily wrenched away from what you’re reading to another part of the page where a there is a fresh ad that demands your immediate attention. This is to say nothing of the unrelated videos that autoplay on every article. The only way I have found that I can tolerate reading articles on JS online is to use ad blocker or, more ethically, minimize the window to approximately 3″ x 2″, thus depriving the ads of any real estate where they might find purchase. At this point, I view my subscription to the Journal Sentinel much in the same way I view my charitable donations: I believe in this, I’m going to give it money, I don’t really expect anything in return.

  2. kmurphy724 says:

    We maintain the daily JS delivery for the same reason – as a community investment in local reporting. But we also subscribe to Urban Milwaukee for hyper-local coverage and I find myself looking here more and more often. Once Urban Milwaukee adds obituaries though….

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