One Reporter's Notebook
The Living Story Page
Richard argues strongly for evergreen story pages. It is not the brand, not the site, but the story itself that is the lifeblood online. Publishers should not think about editions, or even ephemeral streams of articles, but rather living story pages. Story pages are the most valuable real estate. Wikipedia was beating the Washington Post’s search results on Anthrax, despite all of the Post’s great reporting. [You’ll find journalists complaining about this sort of internet result filed under “P”, for “Parasites”] The Post publishes a stream of new articles with new URLs and sends the olds ones to die in the archives becauase they’re still producing content for the daily newspaper content model. The Wikipedia page is constantly changing and remaining updated, probably to this day, with a persistent URL where people can find it. News publishers complained to Google that their topics pages were being consistently beaten by Wikipedia. These topics pages are not updated in realtime. The newspapers redesigned the topics pages and began to see success. Their long-term answer to this question, though, was to hire batches more rewrite people to maintain these topics pages. To someone familiar with the internet, this is crazytalk. Why wouldn’t the journalist and editor, who are experts in this topic, just own this page as they own the beat itself? Shouldn’t the news articles themselves flow from changes to the topic page, rather than rewriting articles to produce an index? The changes needed aren’t just in content architecture, but in human workflow and roles. It comes back to, “How do we build trust?” Trust requires getting transparent about all of the content we have available to publish. It’s expensive to produce, so share it.
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