Monday, January 29, 2007

Reader-hooking tools

Here's a repository of examples of the way Google maps are being used by news organizations to deliver information. Like gas prices around town, or crime by neighborhood ( was created by Adrian Holovaty, discussed lower).

Another thing. Here is a site that will discuss good newspaper Web site design. A couple of experts from USC's Annenberg Online Journalism Review will feature a monthly column. As writers Nora Paul and Laura Ruel point out:
Research into story design effectiveness is happening in newsrooms and universities. In the case of newsroom research, the findings are regarded as competitive intelligence and not readily shared with the industry. In universities, the findings are written in academese and not readily understood by the industry.

In this column, we will ferret out the research and findings about story form effectiveness and profile the people and places who are trying to understand current practices and guide more informed design decisions. Creating stories that engage, inform, and get people to come back for more must be part of the media’s mix of offerings.

Last thought on news Web sites. Here is a personal essay from Adrian Holovaty, now working on the Web site, and previously for the World-Journal's site. He has forward-thinking suggestions about how facts reporters gather and write into stories also could be built into incredibly useful online databases. Having a Web site that can manage these databases sounds like the seed of a best practice.

His commentary is located at, a "Web site devoted to discussion of Web development, with a particular emphasis on news/information sites. Sometimes I release open-source code, too." Read a current profile of him in American Journalism Review. See him play MacGyver's theme song on acoustic guitar here. Very fun.

About LA Times going web-centric

Here is how former journalist and blogger Gary Goldhammer characterized the Los Angeles Times, historically.
The Times is as fractious and fragile as L.A. itself, as diverse and as divided. Layoffs, careless leadership, and ignorance of new horizontal media structures left The Times in the journalism Dark Ages. While other papers braced for battle and embraced the future, The Times cowered in its Spring Street cave like an injured animal.

He notes that the paper has "rearranged its deck chairs" before, to no avail. But adds:
The difference now, however, is the coming tide of journalistic change is raising all boats. After all, this is not a course The Times decided to take, but rather a decision it had to make.

As part of the move to web-centric journalism, (Times editor James E.)O’Shea said all reporters would take an “Internet 101” course to teach them how to be “savvy multimedia journalists” and improve their response to breaking news. Business Editor Russ Stanton will be the paper’s first “innovation” editor, charged with molding the editorial staff into podcasters and videographers ...

Whether this shift will give reporters more job security and help bring The Times into the 21st Century is a question we will see answered in public...

Read the whole post at Below the fold, or not. I mention it here for two reasons. First, let's hear it for training. And second, the powerful inevitability of it all. Not the guaranteed success of it all, but the need to face it.