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October 18, 2007

Okay, Ready? My Coordinates for a Successful News Site

I'm at the Online News Association's conference in Toronto. Listening to some of the speakers at the J-Lab's workshop, absorbing the talk at last week's Networked Journalism Summit, and adding what I've learned from doing PressThink, the model I see emerging would combine...

√ High quality aggregation within a strong editorial focus. (Like the Huffington Post nationally, or Twin Cities Daily Planet locally.)

√ Blogging platform with the best posts filtered to the front page. (Like Daily Kos, still the best at this. See diary rescue.)

√ Original reporting with hybrid strength, including amateurs with pro support (training, production values, copy editing, editorial oversight), pros with amateur support (like Regina Lynn; and pros doing what pros have always done.

Beatblogging, also known as beat reporting with a social network. The simple practice of keeping a blog on a beat that develops a following and turning the following into a knowledge network that feeds the beat.

√ Features with narrow comprehensiveness: everything about something. (Lisa Williams: “That is, a site with some Denver restaurants is OK; but a site with ALL Denver restaurants is better.”)

√ Forums that allow a previously atomized group—people sharing interests and problems—to connect and converse with each other. (Like this one for Buffalo Bills fans.)

√ Find, prepare and place online data sets that are “available,” but not easy to use, and of strong interest to a live public; then let people interact with the information by framing it properly and providing the bigger narrative that the data is a part of. (See and this post from Rich Gordon.)

√ Community publishing: users sharing their stuff, including their photos and reports on events they attended.

√ Reverse publishing, web-to-print, for the highest quality content generated online. (Read Dan Barkin of the News & Observer: “Every day except Sunday, we take photos, forum comments, user-submitted school news, user-nominated volunteer stories and publish it on Page 2.” See also YourHub.)

Crowdsourcing projects that gather information that’s impossible to get any other way. (Like WNYCs efforts, or the News & Observer’s speeding investigation or this: Help Us Investigate.)

√ Absolute commitment to breaking news in the coverage area by any means necessary: pro, am, aggregation, wires, blogging, crowdsourced. (Get familiar with the “river of news” idea—via Dave Winer—and things like twitter feeds.)

√ Geo-tagged information: organized so people can access it by location, or via a map. (See for example

√ Headlines and summaries optimized for search; open archives and permalinks.

√ Put-it-all-together topic pages that combine… aggregation, original reporting, blog posts, data, forums, video, audio and crowdsourced information… on something big, breaking and of intense interest, like a bridge collapse.

Like my coordinates for distributed journalism, these are the coordinates I see for the emerging model of a successful online news organization. I don’t think of this list as comprehensive, and it isn’t really a formula, just a list.

Reacting to the version that ran at Idea Lab—the new group blog for Knight News Challenge winners—Howard Weaver, Vice President for News at The McClatchy Company said, “It comes as close as anything I’ve seen to a roadmap for the near future.”

So there must be some sense in it. (Thanks, Howard.)

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This post was translated into Portuguese by Marcos Palacios, which is pretty cool.

Posted by Jay Rosen at October 18, 2007 1:05 AM