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Weekly For Over A Century, Hourly For The New Century

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[from guest blogger Staci D. Kramer, once a frequent contributor to the weekly E&P and to, predecessor of] That’s the way venerable Editor & Publisher magazine is touting its shift from a weekly magazine to a monthly with a hyped-up Web presence. Relaunched Jan. 12, the new E&P online offers three options for using the site: print/online subscription for $99, online only for $7.95 a month ($95.40 a year) and free with no access to archives or, with few exceptions, articles from the print edition. Some Web-only content moves behind the subscription wall a week after publication. That means anyone can keep up with breaking news but features and most in-depth coverage will be available only to subscribers. In his relaunch explanation , E&P editor Greg Mitchell also promises some additional proprietary content for subscribers. Get used to the red & that marks subscriber-only content.

Unlike some who see this move as a desparation pass with the clocking running out, I’m willing to look at it as a serious effort by owner VNU to push a publication that still has relevance into a postion where it can survive. I think switching to a monthly from a weekly almost always is a bad sign. Using the Web site can change those vibes — if E&P can get its weekly readers online. By emphasizing breaking news, E&P may be able to pump up the volume enough to encourage repeat visits during the week. Ditto by increasing the amount of commentary being posted. That could lure advertisers without an interest in E&P the magazine to support the Web site.

Some quick thoughts on the redesign: today’s relaunch dumps the beige left-hand nav bar and links under the masthead for tabs across the top. Click on any one of them and another set of tabs for six content departments shows up: business, ad/circ, newsroom, technology, online and syndicates. Those tabs remain on every page. It can be a little disconcerting and even misleading to a user who thinks the tabs may be related to the content being viewed but the placement pulls eyes to the right — and to the skyscraper ad under part of the tab bar. Stories from each are highlighted on the home page in a yellowish box on the right. More stories are visible but the lead stories stand out more.

At first glance the bright white site looks less cluttered but the logos, text and ampersands stuffed in that box quickly shift that impression.

The new navigation runs the risk of making the rest of the much longer front page irrelevant. My first temptation on repeat visits today has been to glance at the top three stories, the part of the box visible in the first screen and the tabs — then to follow one of those links instead of scrolling.

One more thing: If breaking news is going to be a selling point the site will have to do a better job of letting people know when stories are updated.