The Gazette has dropped Mark Stachiew’s Canwest-syndicated NETworthy column, which every week lists a bunch of websites to visit. His last column was this past Monday. It’s one in a sea of columnists who are either leaving outright (Matt Radz, Lisa Fitterman) or who are leaving the paper as employees and sticking around freelance (Jack Todd, Mary Lamey).
In Stachiew’s case, I’ll say: Good riddance.
Stachiew himself seems like a nice guy, but the column is pure shite. Rather than focus on interesting websites that provide useful information, it’s filled with laughably forgettable single-function dot-com websites that sound like they were brought back in time from TechCrunch deadpool posts from six months in the future: meeting schedulers, CV or invoice templates, task managers, bookmark replacements or highly-focuses social networking sites (“It’s like Facebook for X” always prompts me to ask: Why not just use Facebook then?)
In exchange for providing these ridiculously trivial services, the websites try to get you to pay for them after using them for free, through the clichéd limited-time-free-trial, free-for-non-commercial-use or pay-for-advanced-features methods.
It’s clear from the columns that they’re written based not on thorough searches for interesting new websites, but on a random handful of press releases picked out of the inbox from companies who spend more on marketing than creating a product people will be interested in. Some websites are featured in this column before they’re even launched, or are based on the hope that user-generated content will eventually make it worth visiting.
There’s a hunger out there for lists of interesting websites to visit. That’s why people visit Digg or Fark. But these websites are not interesting, and unless the focus of the column changes it’s not good enough to put in a newspaper.
So ends my rant.