My first impression of Media Decoder was, “What the heck? This must be one of those quasi-reporter blogs.” Because everyone knows that REAL blogs aren’t sub domains of traditional newspapers (who are typically pretty web stupid).

But, it’s a clean enough design and recognizable as the NY Times, which is probably among the three most reputable newspapers. So I’ll give them a pass on the first impression. It’s a business blog that, obviously, focuses more on news than opinion.

No Headers or Geographic Markers

The first post I read about Pizza Hut was ____, but the first thing I noticed was the lack of headers throughout the lengthy post. That’s 23, yep, count ‘em, twenty three paragraphs without a single image, header, bulleted list, or call-out quote. And you know what? The content could be KILLER and I would still have eye strain. That’s too much of the same looking landscape for my eyes to have to navigate. With every glance around the page, I’ve now lost where I was on the article. No discernible markings left me feeling a little claustrophobic.

Reader Interaction?

This part is somewhat surprising. Even though Media Decoder is popular enough to break the Technorati Top 100 list, I found only one out of fifteen posts on the home page had 50+ comments. Most posts had 2, 4, maybe 15 comments. Seriously? How does a site with thousands of daily visitors only get 1, 2, or 15 comments on a post?

Then it hits me. Commentors have to sign in to comment. Ugh. Lame! So much for harnessing the power of the people.

You know what’s funny? The ONE post that got more than 50 comments recently was a one sentence news blurb about Rupert Murdoch giving $1 million to the Republican Governors Association. Duh. A liberal paper with liberal readers is going to generate some response from a media mogul supporting Right Wingers.

Erratic Schedule

While the site is definitely a daily publisher, some days you get one post, other days you get four. A bit odd, don’t you think? Still, they pass the daily test, which means readers who enjoy the content know they can come back tomorrow for another installment.

One thing I HAVE noticed about the most popular blogs in the world, however, is publishing frequency. Every one of them I can think of publishes 5-15 posts per day. Granted, they’re not one-blogger shops, so that’s feasible. A one-person shop could probably pump out five posts per day, if they spent two hours per post and never ran out of data. I counted five different bloggers contributing to the content on the Media Decoder home page alone.

Would I Return?

Probably not. There wasn’t a single compelling story or title on the first page. It was boring media business news as far as the eye could see. I’ll pass.

What IS It Exactly?

Want to know more about Media Decoder? Good luck. There are no About pages or lists of contributors that I could see. All you get is one paragraph blurb in a sidebar that’s chalked full of links to other parts of the Ny Times website.

Media Decoder is an insider’s guide to the media industry that tracks the transformation of the movie business, television, print, advertising, marketing and new media. It’s a showcase for the extensive media coverage throughout The New York Times and a window on how the business of connecting with consumers is changing in the digital age.

Huh? That’s a lot of topics. Media? That’s the subject. The transformation of media. And after glancing through the blog posts on page one, I saw maybe one-fifth that actually seem to reflect that mission statement. Sounds like Mediaocrity to me.


Waste of Eye Strain

2.5 out of 10

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