Interesting change in strategy by the Hartford Courant Web site … the former CTNow.com has ceased its portal-like ways … CTNow is now strictly an entertainment site, which a nice youthful flare, and all the news that’s fit to digitize can be found at a traditional newsy looking courant.com.
Both sites are fine.
I have some contradictory thoughts on the switch. On one hand, the whole local-news-site as portal phenonem of five or six years ago was slightly misguided. The newspaper brand is vitally important and newspaper Web sites should never have gotten way from that. However, in many, many markets, the local newspaper is THE major media player — their Web sites should be a portal of sorts to of local information. Those sites should be community centers, community hubs.
That said, seperating out entertainment into its own, hipper, more interactive site makes a lot of sense. News audiences and entertainment audiences are very different, even if some times they are the same people.
CTNow.com ain’t exactly lawrence.com, but then that’s OK — it’s a very different market. The median age in Lawrence is 26. The median age in Hartford is 37. There are few communities in the U.S. with a median age in the range of Lawrence, which is one thing any newspaper site manager should look at when considering whether to duplicate what Rob Curley is up to these days.
My favorite feature of the new CTNow.com is the calendar for upcoming events this week right at the top of the page. Very smart.