Today I was reading a post on on the Chicago Tribune when I decided to retweet one of their articles using the Retweet button they provided at the bottom of the page. After waiting about 30 seconds for their custom Retweet system to work, the post appeared in a box and was over the Twitter character limit by 23 characters. The Retweet button had failed to do what every other website figured out years ago. It didn’t shorten the URL. This created too many steps for me. I abandoned the Retweet and went about my day.

retweet fail

Compare this with the Lockergnome Retweet button. You click it, and it quickly brings up a small window for editing your post. The URL is automatically shortened, and I can simply click Tweet and be done with it.

retweet win

The Chicago Tribune is a large corporation. One would think the Tribune would be able to do things better than a single blogger. But the newspaper companies fail at everything Web 2.0.  They censor posts in their comments section, require a username and password to comment, and regularly complain about bloggers stealing their work. When will they start getting it right? Do these companies realize that their Web 2.0 failures are the reason they are dying?

Another problem with these publishers are the corporate way they function whenever anything like this needs to be changed. Readers will send complaints about Tribune’s Retweet button, but the complaint will probably end up in a general inbox and likely go ignored. If by chance somebody does take notice of the problem, it will have to go through several layers of management before anything is done. At least one manager will probably find a reason why a URL shortener shouldn’t be used and it will never be fixed. Compare that with the single blogger who recognizes their needs to be a change and just does it within the hour.

There’s no doubt these newspaper publishers have good writers and I appreciate the content they produce (most of the time), but at some point they really need to embrace the web. It’s 2011! Authors should foster conversation in the comments section. Retweet and Like buttons shouldn’t be so complex, and as long as a blogger links back to the article they are talking about (and not stealing the entire text), it should be all good. They also need to put a small group of people in charge of Web 2.0 features on their sties. People who understand it well and and give them the freedom to make changes to the website as necessary without management approval.

I’m not sure this will ever happen though. These dinosaur publishers are stuck in their ways and are still trying to find ways they can sell more physical newspapers. Maybe one or two publishers will get it someday. Until then, I guess I’ll be reading stuff from the AOL network.