I am at the Online News Association annual meeting in Toronto. Listening to some of the speakers at the J-Lab’s workshop, puzzling through the success of some sites and the failure of others, and putting together what I have learned from four years of doing PressThink, the emerging model I see would combine…
√ Blogging platform with the best posts filtered to the front page. (Like Daily Kos)
√ Original reporting with hybrid strength: amateurs with pro support (training, production values, copy editing, editorial oversight, and traffic), pros with amateur support (like Regina Lynn; see also my Idea Lab post on beat reporting with a social network) and pros doing what pros have always done.
√ Features with narrow comprehensiveness: everything about something. (Lisa Williams: “That is, a site with some Denver restaurants is OK; but a site with ALL Denver restaurants is better.”)
√ Forums that allow a previously atomized group—people sharing interests and problems—to connect and converse with each other.
√ Find, prepare and place online data sets that are “available” (but not easy to use), and of strong interest to a user public; let people access and interact with the information by framing it properly and providing the bigger narrative that the data is a part of. (See chicagocrime.org.)
√ Reverse publishing: web-to-print, for the highest quality content generated online. (Read Dan Barkin: “Every day except Sunday, we take photos, forum comments, user-submitted school news, user-nominated volunteer stories and publish it on Page 2.” See YourHub.)
√ Absolute commitment to breaking news in the coverage area by any means necessary: pro, am, aggregation, blogging, crowdsourced.
√ Geo-tagged information: organized so people can access it by location, or via a map.
√ Headlines and summaries optimized for search; open archives and permalinks.
√ Put-it-all-together key topic pages that combine… aggregation, original reporting, blog posts, data, forums and crowdsourced information on something big and of intense interest, like a bridge collapse.
Like my coordinates for distributed journalism, these are the coordinates I see for the emerging model of a successful online news organization.