David Putney : a pessimic point of view about the future of journalism


David Putney is “UI/UX, visual designer and front-end web developper in the Boston area. He is specialized in designing and building beautiful and functional media and content-driven websites”.

What was your work about this subject ?

I worked in newspapers for 20 years and the last seven or so doing web content and web development. I designed several websites for the Boston Globe, including Cruxnow.com, BDCwire.com and betaboston.com. Although that last one was only sorta me. I didn’t do the logo.

Does Information Architecture and UX Design have an important place in discussions about the future of news in the US ?

It should, but it has been my own personal experience that the thinking at newspapers is that they are important and that readers like them, so reader concerns and experience almost always takes second place to the newspaper’s goals.

I may be generalizing too much with this, but the discussion almost never centers on “who can we make this great for readers?” It’s more like “we already have our readers, what can we do to them and get away with? »

You seem to be very pessimistic about the design of online news. Why ?

All I can relate is my own experience. I don’t have a wide view of the entire industry, but I can say that everywhere I’ve worked was pretty much the same. It was my experience that UX takes a back seat to other concerns, as I said above. Newspapers are in an existential struggle. Their revenue is in terminal decline and the end game is that they go out of business. It’s my opinion that many of them will. The situation is that online doesn’t make anywhere near what print did and news organizations will do *anything* to squeeze some more money out. That means they will put Taboola ads with horrifying images on their pages. They’ll load pages with with ad trackers. They’ll include autoplay ads. They’ll throw up paywalls in front of readers. The thinking is very much “what can we get out of readers?”

My experience at the Globe was that it was a huge, siloed, bureaucratic, sclerotic, dysfunctional organization that was still enamored with its past glories. Places like that tend to not make good decisions.

To go further on the subject, read “The news business”, an article by Davis Putney