Analysis of the Chippewa Herald
The Chippewa Herald is a print newspaper in Chippewa Falls, Wisc. that now has a website at Chippewa.com. At first glance, I noticed the banner ad at the top of the page. Unfortunately, the banner ad is almost the same color as the print of the masthead and the quick links bar. The masthead is very small (it’s even difficult to read “The Chippewa” though “Herald” is in a larger font) and in the top left corner. I would say a good change to make would be to make the masthead stretch all the way across the page. Looking farther down the page, it has recent news and some interactive links for users. It even has some multimedia links and pictures right at the top. Overall it’s a fairly clean site. It could use a little more color and action though. As it is it’s pretty plain and not overly attractive to the eye, but going deeper into the site it seemed it was only created in Oct. 2009, so it makes sense that there is a lot of work to be done.
In the “About Us” section, I found the site is owned by Lee Enterprises, a company that, according to its website, owns 51 daily newspapers and 300 weekly newspapers across 23 states. That leads me to believe that this is a legitimate site. The fact that it is also one of the larger print newspapers in the Chippewa Valley area adds to the site’s legitimacy.
As for the content of the site, I would say it is definitely journalism. Across the top of the page it has links to different sections that are the same as the sections in the print newspaper. Beyond that, the online site allows the Herald to further organize stories with subcategories. Most of the stories are fairly basic small-town news (roadwork, natural disasters, new city council members) and Associate Press stories, but I did find it interesting that the site has a place on the homepage titled “Share your 9/11 story.” This is something that will get the audience more involved because they can send in their memories of that day. Wisconsin is a long way from New York, but it’s a topic that almost every person alive on that day has a memory of, so it seems like a good way to increase involvement with the site.
After reading a number of the stories on the site, I believe the information is accurate enough to be considered journalism. Many of the stories seem to be AP stories or are from writers at other newspapers though. Most of the stories actually written by the Herald are shorter or are just briefs, but my assumption is that this is because it’s a daily in a relatively small town. I could be wrong though, in which case the site could be more of an aggregator that only produces a small amount of original content for online.
I could not find a specific place where it said when the site was last updated, but it does show when stories were updated. It looks like the stories that were last updated are under “Recent News” on the homepage. It’s 8:25 p.m. right now, and the most recent update was at 12:25 p.m. So the site could definitely be updated more often, but for a smaller online site it’s probably updated enough. It’s a least updated daily, which means it’s not being neglected and is therefore a little more legitimate.
Overall I think this is a legitimate journalistic site that could use some polishing. It’s pretty apparent that this is a small town newspaper that’s just getting on the online bandwagon. I can’t know for sure, but I’m betting they’re just using shovelware at this point. It has a few ads, but not so many that they’re totally overwhelming. I think there’s a lot of work to be done but at least they’re trying.