Slower than a porn site.
That is not exactly how one of the nation’s most reputable newspapers wants to be known, but that is also the kind of year 2011 has been for the Washington Post.
Patrick Pexton, the ombudsman of the capital’s largest paper, wrote last Friday about how slow the Post’s website loads. Enough readers have e-mailed him that “these kinds of letters […] are the most numerous topic in my folder of complaints about the Web site.”
By their stopwatches – probably phone timers – readers determined the Post’s site loads five times slower than that of the New York Times or Reuters, and seven times slower than the UK’s The Guardian and the Independent.
Did anyone bother to time it against D.C. rivals like Politico, The Hill or the National Journal?
In the past few months, the Post shuttered most of its regional bureaus – or as editor Marcus Brauchli put it, it got rid of extraneous office space. It was less than two years ago that it closed the last of its national bureaus to focus more on regional coverage.
Its parent company has had an even harder time of it because its cash cow – the Kaplan education division – was rocked by a scandal related to student debt.
That led to layoffs at the e-magazine Slate, and news this past Friday that the company’s stock price hit a 52-week low.
But does that really explain why the Post can’t get its site up and running?
Pexton suggests that it might require too much manpower and that the newspaper’s technology team has other priorities, like improving existing applications and developing new ones.
Or, from another perspective, the Post has more pressing matters to worry about than traffic to its website.
Maybe that’s why, per an announcement last week, you will be able to read the paper of the Grahams and Ben Bradlee on Facebook without going to its website.
Now that’s an interesting solution, but just one question:
Are Bob Woodward or Carl Bernstein on Facebook?