McClatchy's New Political Site is a Bloated JavaScript Mess

created Nov 7, 2019

I saw this yesterday at Mediagazer.

https://mediagazer.com/191106/p16#a191106p16

McClatchy launches Impact2020, a $50/year subscription for political news with an outside-the-beltway approach, via journalists in TX, FL, PA, NC, SC, CA, more

https://www.adweek.com/digital/mcclatchy-impact-2020-election-coverage-subscription/

McClatchy's Impact2020 website: https://www.mcclatchydc.com.

Here's an article from that site, and from what I can tell, this post is a simple text-based article.

https://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/election/article237062284.html

Yet ...

https://www.webpagetest.org/result/191107_1M_7c5ea45468c251433662c1965bbc407f/

From: Dulles, VA - Chrome - Cable
11/7/2019, 9:29:31 AM
First View Fully Loaded:
Time: 35.128 seconds
Requests: 769
Bytes in: 7,619 KB

The articles contains a little over 600 words, counting the title. The above test simulated a fast internet connection, but it still took 35 seconds to download the article completely.

Why would a 600-word article require a web browser to make over 700 web requests and download over 7.5 megabytes of crapware? What's going on? Do security and privacy concerns exist with this type of web design?

176 web requests were for JavaScript.

4.5 megabytes of the download were for JavaScript!?!?!?

Does that hostile web design exist for subscribers?

Even if embedded video and images existed, a NEWS article that is comprised mainly of text should have no need to require a reader's web browser to download 4.5 megabytes of JavaScript, unless something nefarious is occurring.

The only plus-side to McClatchy's hideous and hostile web design is that the article text content still displays with JavaScript disabled. That surprised me.

It's unlikely that media orgs, especially local newspapers, will ever do the right thing by offering paying customers a reader-friendly, useful web design that would be a slightly enhanced version of https://text.npr.org.

Here's my version of the above McClatchy article and the webpagetest.org results.

http://sawv.org/2019/11/07/test-post-07nov2019.html

https://www.webpagetest.org/result/191107_80_6b76c670afe2fd801119c6e7efc18359/

From: Dulles, VA - Chrome - Cable
11/7/2019, 10:12:23 AM
First View Fully Loaded:
Time: 0.274 seconds
Requests: 2
Bytes in: 6 KB

I use no JavaScript.

My version contains the same text article. TEXT! My useful, lightweight version is an approximately 6,000 byte download.

The web is fast. Websites that are designed with irresponsible bloat are slow.

Even on slow internet connections, simply-designed websites meant for reading can still load quickly. I'm guessing that lightweight-designed websites accessed over dial-up would load faster than "modern" designed websites that are accessed over high speed internet connections.

With our home internet connection, I'm surprised at how fast websites can be accessed when I use the links2 web browser. From the Linux command line, I start the browser by typing links2 -g. That -g option institutes a limited graphical mode. The mouse works.

links2 -g provides a few typographical options for the reader to control how every website appears. links2 -g does not support JavaScript nor CSS.

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