A Tale of Two Online Newspaper Searches

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The newspaper article in the morning paper

It’s Monday morning and over breakfast I’ve found two articles that I want to read more closely, perhaps to share on my blogs — one in the New York Times and the other in the Washington Post. When I decide to share, I usually print out the article, mark it up a bit, and copy the all-important link. My digital life features online newspapers, but in the mornings I still love to look over the paper version,

The 21st Century searching experience for the two newspapers could not be more different.

On the Times website I search for the headline that I”ve just read and up pops my article. Within moments it’s printed and ready for me to study. Interestingly, even if the Times’ online version leads with a different headline, my article will pop up with a search for either headline.    

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Washington Post print version on the iPad

My Washington Post search is almost always different and more arduous. Today I search first for the printed edition’s headline. My article does not come up. Then I search for the subject — in this cast Instagram. Still no article. Next I search for the reporter’s name. Often if the article is a day or two old, this works, but not today — I still don’t have my article.

So my next step is to check the digital version of the newspaper — the one online that looks exactly like the print version.

I am working on my laptop, and it’s often difficult to find the online paper version on a computer, so I run upstairs and retrieve my husband’s iPad. Back down to my desk I bring up today’s paper on the iPad, move through Section A to reach the right page and finally get my article, written by Haley Tsukayama, about Instagram. Total time spend counting the trip up and down the stairs, about 10 minutes compared to under a minute for the New York Times.

Most of the time when I am searching for a current Washington Post article, I just go straight to the online print edition, however, ever so often I go through all the steps, just to see if the Post has made things any easier. Is it just me? No, I’ve spoken to others who have experienced the same searching challenges.

I love the Washington Post. It’s my hometown newspaper. But why is it so much harder to search quickly for an article in the Post when it is so much easier in the Times? In a connected world where quickly searching for accurate information is critical, the Washington Post should make searching more user-friendly.

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