Wednesday, March 14, 2007

A short primer to building great news sites

Start with the obvious:

1. Build great news sites
Every year, the Project for Excellence in Journalism evaluates news sites for 5 criterion:
user customization, user participation, use of multimedia, site depth, and editorial branding.

Learn from the best sites:
PEJ gives high ratings to CBS News, the Washington Post, BBC News and Global Voices for ‘originality of their content…the extent to which they allowed users to customize the content…make(ing) the content mobile.

Users participation:
During these times of 2-way conversation, PEJ found that few sites let user participate, but this is going to change . For example, USA Today went about user participation in big way.

Among other big news sites, The New York Times,, have great blogs. In fact, has converted the ‘letters to the editor section into a blog’.

Few sites have user voting at the moment but this is not abd idea to promote your content.

Few news sites have Forums, which is a pity.
Forums are great for building communities – very important for local news sites.

Read the latest State of the Media Report here:

2. Journalists need to start using the exciting new Online tools:
Blogs, Digg, bookmarking, Video blogging, RSS, Social Media Marketing, Youtube, Podcasts, Flickr, etc.

Mindy McAdams has a great post, advising Journalists to go out and start trying these new tools – search Google and you will find tutorials on all the above tools.

Mindy is right – you may stop reading this article right now and start your own blog.

3. A reading list for beginners:
[ tip: spend a week reading all posts on these web sites. Reread to let more stuff sink in] – all about blogging and its potential. – all aboit blogging and search engine optimization (creating pages that search engines pick and display prominentlt and quickly) topics like keyword research, link building, etc. the starting point to learn how media is changing. & – tips for online journalists. – Rob Curley, man responsible for injecting life into boring & stagnating news sites. Learn more about his work.

4. Some journalists that have already built online brand recognition
Here is a sampling: – Om Malik, writer at – Rafat Ali – Michael Arrington – Nick Denton, was at Economist, runs the popular Gawker blog network Jason Calacanis, started the Weblogsinc blog network, sold to AOL, also a former journalist

5. Good online-only publications worth reading daily:
Read, learn, and emulate the best practices.

6. Time is on the your side.
Time is on the journalist’s side. Did you know that growth of the blogosphere is slowing down. Although people will continue launching new blogs, maintaining them with fresh news and thought will always be a challenge.

Same thing with Video blogs and Podcasts.

Here’s where the trained journalist may find herself comfortable – you know how to research and report;how to write for online medium; and so on. While most news is a commodity online, often regurgitated by other bloggers, you may it worthy to come with analysis, exclusive a opinion, breaking news in reader-leasing formats.

I think that despite the emergence of all these online tools, the story is still the foundation.

7. No Dorothy, there is no such things as too much Media.

You will also think that there are too many news outlets chasing too few news. You may be right but note that many mainstream outlets chase the big and often frivolous stories – for example, news items covered Anna Nicole Smith’s death in far more detail than the goings on at Walter Reed hospital.

Every itch of a celebrity is a story. You can change this.

8. Think brand. It will take time
If you can invest time on your online news site, it will be worthwhile. Write regularly. Cover great topics. Write well.

I hear they say building an offline media brand takes times and money – building an online news brand will take time and much less money. (and lots of enthusiasm)

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home