The Washington Post last week ran a two-part narrative about the murder of a young lawyer only on the Internet. It promised an “intriguing, vexing whodunit with strange sexual undertones and clues and characters fit for a pulp novel.” Post ombudsman Andrew Alexander said the Web-only presentation of the “absorbing mystery” didn’t sit well with a lot of readers. People who didn’t have Internet access felt cheated, and those who don’t like to read online, felt inconvenienced.
Alexander said it was logical to put the short series on the Web because otherwise, each 3,300-word installment, if it started on the front page of the newspaper, would require another page and a half to accommodate text, headlines and photos. That’s a lot when the Post is trying to conserve costly newsprint. Alexander concluded that editors made the right call in this case, but he warned that Post circulation “will surely suffer if too much high-value content is available only online.” The first of the two-part series can be seen here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/05/31/AR2009053102510.html