Robert Niles, the editor of the Online Journalism Review, posted yesterday about the key components in a digital news site. He laid out 4 major elements:
The Knowledge Base
News publications contain immense archives of information, but … that information is scattered among thousands of incremental, daily articles. . . That dispersion of information puts news sites at a huge disadvantage in attracting new readers, who so often instead end up at sites such as Wikipedia, which organize their information into single-topic pages, containing all relevant information about those topics.
There’s no good reason why news websites can’t have rich collections of articles about the topics of greatest interest to their communities… This knowledge base becomes the SEO bait that attracts new readers into the website
It’s not enough to play stenographer any longer. Neither sources nor readers need journalists to do that. Communities instead need people who can cut through all that information accessible through Google, or posted to Facebook, and show them what’s true, what’s honest and what’s complete.
And, given the conventions of online publishing today, readers want to see the names and faces of the individuals who are making those cases. The Internet is a powerfully personal medium, defined by individual interaction. It is a mass medium of individuals in relation with one another, unlike print and broadcast media. . .
The blog provides the best format yet implemented for connecting expert voices with an audience.
As I just wrote, the Internet is an interactive medium, and a news website must function as an online community. Readers ought to have the opportunity to engage your publication’s expert voices, as well as to initiate coverage and conversation, through their own blogs and discussion forums.
Your community should be a meritocracy, though, which values the true, honest and complete among its participants as much as it does among the other sources that your expert voices cover. As a publisher, you are under no obligation to provide everyone an equal voice. In fact, you have an obligation to create a community in which participants can distinguish the valuable posts.
Legacy Media Archive
. . . I believe that placing a complete legacy media archive online is important.
I think he’s spot on. But I would say it in fewer and different words:
- Topic Taxonomy: Sites should have a large topic taxonomy and the content should be broken into topic pages for SEO bait
- Curators / Community Managers / Pro Journalists: Journalists need to still lead the sites with their own high quality posting as well as filtering and directing of the crowd’s contributions. These leaders need real profiles and identities inside their communities.
- Community / The Crowd: the crowd needs to be able to pariticpate, not just in comments but in posting itself and in filtering everyone’s posts.
- Archive: have all of your organization’s posts over all time.
- Blog Format: He squeezes in “blog provides the best format yet implemented for connecting expert voices with an audience.” In other words, the blog format is the standard for how all of this should be laid out.