Time-Standard Managing Editor Rich Somerville has announced that reporter and columnist James Faulk has been assigned to the new position of Web Editor. Rich’s column is pretty short on specifics leading some local blogsters and blog commenters to speculate what the heck may be in store for the site. Everybody hates the pop-ups (me included but I use a great Firefox plug-in so I don’t see them) and the design is a bit chaotic. But what exactly will James be doing to improve the site?
Well, as James Faulk comments on Fred’s Blog:
I’ll basically be managing the production of content for the Web â€” that is, more video, more audio, more Web-centric features. My job is to push everyone within the newsroom to put the Internet at the top of their list. Also, we’ll have Web updates posted throughout the day, so you should be able to find fresh headlines every few hours. The Bully Pulpit, for those interested, will become a blog.
So, he will be pushing more content to the web and trying to keep it current. Nothing in the way of technical improvements. That’s a shame.
One feature I’ve been bugging several local publications about is implementing RSS feeds. Especially if new stories are going to be pushed to the web throughout the day, news feeds would be much better than having to check the web site randomly. I did visit the T-S site and lo and behold they do have a feed. However, it’s a list of “Most Viewed” from the last 12 hours. Most viewed what? Stories on the web I assume. But that’s tautological. If you put only the most viewed in to your only feed, won’t those who use the feed add to the votes for the most viewed stories already in the “Most Viewed” list? Especially since the feed only provides the first few lines of each stories, so you have to click through to the site to read the full story. That’s not a bad strategy in itself, since for a commercial operation you want to have people go to the site itself so they can be subjected to the ads. Page views and click throughs are all important metrics.
But if you’re posting fresh content throughout the day, a feed that offers the most current sotries would of greatest interest to news junkies.
All in all though, the Times-Standard is working hard to find a place in this fast evolving networked world, experimenting with new modes and new content types. On the other hand the Eureka Reporter hasn’t changed it’s web site one iota since it went online several years ago. They still can’t even get their server set up right so that you don’t have to type www.eurekareporter.com instead of just eurekareporter.com. If you go to the latter, it STILL says:
What’s that about?
The Journal did make some changes to their website a few weeks ago. Their site is updated once a week like clockwork on Thursdays, so it doesn’t really need an RSS. But for the dailies, which occasionally upload breaking news, the RSS would be most welcome.
Glad you brought this up. I think I might send in a “letter to the editor” about RSS feeds. I’ve been trying to deploy them everywhere I can, including, for example on the HCAOG site to make it easy to stay current on agendas & minutes: http://www.hcaog.net/org/board/
One thing I can say for sure: whichever paper deploys RSS feeds first will have a small upper-hand over the other in terms of ability to funnel readers, an upper-hand which will grow.
One thing: You can use topix.net to subscribe to local news in your newsreader, and even get news for specific papers. The only one I’m following right now in my reader is the Journal, with this URL: http://www.topix.net/rss/search/article?blogs=0&submit=Search+All+Topics&url=northcoastjournal.com
BTW- Wasn’t the Journal supposed to deploy a new website, like, a month ago?
Oh, and as a human interest cooincidence, I was hired to be the Eureka Reporter web-developer/manager. They wanted Web 2.0, rich media, all that stuff. I quit after one day out of boredom, dissatisfaction with an air-conditioned, polo-shirt required work environment, and the poor pay for entry level positions. I’ve made a ton more money freelancing and working other jobs. If newspapers want to upgrade their websites, they need to be willing to make it worthwhile for the people given the charge.
I truly wish that both local papers had a passable web team. Reflective of the need for web-savvy individuals in industry all over the North Coast, if you ask me.