Friday, October 9, 2009...9:30 am

Metro’s big online strategy mistake

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CrosswordAs a regular commuter (god help me), I often pick up the Metro at the station to get a sense of the current news agenda. And because sometimes it’s hard to motivate yourself  to crack open that book about PHP scripting at 8am.

Like most newspapers, the Metro has tried to develop an online strategy. Which mainly involves things like including a web address so you can log on later to see someone make a prank call about a birthday cake. You know – once you’ve got access to a computer.

Here’s where that goes wrong.

When I get tired of the usual blend of guilty celebrity pleasures and yesterday’s rehashed news (around Aldershot, usually), I sometimes dig out a pen and start in on the sudoku puzzles.

To be honest, I’d prefer to do the crossword. But I can’t. Because, in its wisdom, Metro has decided to put its crossword… online.

So, one of the few things in a newspaper that is ideally suited to the print format – handy to use while you’re stuck in a railway carriage or bus; designed to be completed using a pen or pencil – has been migrated online as part of a strategy to draw people on to the web to consume added-value content.

It’s possibly the single most misconceived editorial tactic I’ve come across. Not only do I not really want to do a crossword in front of a PC using Javascript, but when I get to work the time for doing leisurely puzzles has normally passed. Because I’m, you know, at work.

In a final touch of idiocy, the paper offers you a version that you can print out. So if you wanted to solve it on the train home the old-fashioned way, you could.

Although it might save time and effort if it was printed in the paper in the first place.

Well done Metro.

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