News Leadership 3.0

May 25, 2009

Topics pages 101

Steve Yelvington drafts an excellent list of features for topics pages on your news site

In “A tale of two audiences (and beatblogging and topics pages)”, Steve Yelvington looks at the two major groups of users for news Web sites: The far flung occasional users who may visit once or twice a month and the loyalists who visit 20 times or more per month.
Yelvington journalistic prescriptions for serving each group.
The occasional users need topics pages, and Yelvington has this nifty list of features:

The topics page is the piece that offers the greatest opportunity to connect with the big circle. A good topics page has several obvious components:

  1. An editorially crafted synopsis. Who/what is this about? Why should I care? You won’t get the answers by throwing together a link barn and calling it a day. This is where a reporter’s expertise pays off.
  2. Images, maps, or infographics. A picture is worth a thousand words, so choose the best that help a casual visitor understand the framework surrounding a story.
  3. Links to Web resources. Be part of the Web, not just on the Web.
  4. Links to conversation. If this is significant, won’t people be talking about it? Where do I find them?
  5. Links to multimedia components.
  6. Links to incremental coverage. Let the drill-down begin.
  7. Who covers this topic? How can I reach this person?

Done well, the topics page provides the casual, occasional user with a gentle, almost encyclopedic introduction to the topic (public issue, person, place, thing). But the regular, loyal user benefits too.

And there is more for the loyalists: the beat blog.

The beat blog focuses on the small circle, offering speed, depth and conversation among the reporter and people with high interest in the subject matter. While regular users are the primary beneficiaries, there is a secondary benefit to the casual user: the reporter gets better at his or her job. Better leads, better feedback, better ideas can lead to more interesting journalism.

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Exploring innovation, transformation and leadership in a new ecosystem of news, by journalist and change advocate Michele McLellan.

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