Pulitzer takes a two-tiered approach in St. Louis with STLtoday.com
This column appeared March 22, 2001, in the Online Journalism Review. Here’s the version on the OJR site.
By J.D. Lasica
Pulitzer Inc. threw the switch March 15 on STLtoday.com, a new portal that bills itself as the definitive online guide to living in St. Louis. It’s bright, colorful and slickly packaged.
Now only if it had a soul.
As part of Pulitzer’s new portal strategy, its flagship paper, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, takes a seat far to the rear of the bus. It’s an interesting approach, one that bears watching for other publications in mid-sized markets. Online staffers at the Post-Dispatch update the portal with breaking news, but they’re only peripherally involved with the new venture’s operation.
In words and deeds, STLtoday has taken pains to distance itself from the Post-Dispatch (they’re both subsidiaries of Pulitzer). And while, in my view, they’ve gone overboard in that effort, the company’s goal of broadening the site’s mission to create a gateway to St. Louis seems the right approach.
Since the earliest days of online publishing, news publications jumped onto the Web bandwagon but offered users little except digital versions of their print products. Users, meantime, flocked to portals that offered practical services or to the largest news sites to get their daily dose of news.
As one user of the site wrote in a post Monday on the STLtoday forum: “I personally don’t use the Post Dispatch site for news. If I want news I go to CNN or Yahoo.”