Monday, March 08, 2010

Unhealthy Reporting

A while ago I found myself looking at the Drudge Report. I'm not sure why I was looking at it. Probably to check whether it still existed. I seem to recall that when I first started surfing the net, you couldn't escape mention of Matt Drudge and his site, both on and off line. It was pretty much flavour of the month with the media for quite a while, and was considered, in some circles, to be pretty influential. However, these days it never seems to get mentioned. Other political sites have appeared and the Drudge Report seems to have fallen out of favour. Looking at it, that hardly seems surprising. The site's 'design' (if one can call it that), doesn't seem to have changed since 1998. Whilst I'm well aware of the concept that 'content is king' and that its presentation is essentially irrelevant, the fact is that contemporary web users have certain expectations when it comes to web design. Easy to read fonts, for instance. Straightforward navigation, for another. Oh, and easy to understand layouts, with the key information easily accessible. Needless to say, they won't find that at the Drudge Report, which seems to be as conservative in its approach to web design as it is in its politics.

Not that better design would make its contents any more digestible. When I looked at it, the site had screaming headlines, (above the title banner, not a good idea design-wise, particularly when the title is pushed so far down as to no longer be in the browser 'safe area'), about our own National Health Service (NHS). Specifically, it was regurgitating the story about the NHS trust in the midlands which was recently censured for its lamentable approach to patient care. Of course, Drudge seized upon the declaration that staff had made some patients lives 'hell', as proof that Obama's healthcare plans would result in the creation of death camps. The irony here is that the NHS trust in question ended up treating its patients this way as a result of chasing targets, which had been set as an attempt to make the NHS more 'market orientated'. The only lesson, surely, which can be drawn from this, is that health care is better delivered when it isn't left to the workings of the market. Which is undoubtedly the opposite of what Drudge is trying to prove. Such sloppy research and failure to properly think through all the associated arguments is, quite possibly, another reason why the Drudge Report's stock seems to have fallen so much.

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