Monday, October 15, 2012

Sorting out platforms: Arts coverage

The Orion editors will be meeting in coming weeks to decide how to best use each of the paper;'s content platforms. That wasn't a top priority when print-first meant the newspaper was published on Wednesday and the website was updated using that content.

But this year's advent of a daily webcast on's home page, robust Twitter and Facebook efforts, and the arrival soon of the new Orion phone and tablet app means what gets played where and when takes on new significance.

What, for example, should appear only on the website? Only on the mobile app? Anything?

Arts and entertainment coverage is a good candidate for reconsideration. Reducing the number of printed pages last year forced some content out of the paper newspaper and onto the website, and this year that's meant the Entertainment section has been Web-only content.

I'd like to suggest the website is the perfect place for entertainment features, previews and reviews. The web excels as a visual and aural storyteller, and most arts content appeals heavily to our senses of sight and hearing. Also, readers who are looking for something to do on Tuesday night (or Friday or Satuday) are less likely to pick up Wednesday's Orion to find it and more likely to turn to the Web.

Ideally, that means the team that works on the website plays to that strength, focusing on providing extensive coverage of arts and entertainment with a full range of storytelling tools (video, audio, slideshows, invitations to readers to add their own content). It should also mean playing arts coverage prominently on the home page instead of hiding it in the Arts section. And because arts coverage doesn't have a home in the paper newspaper, it should be easier to get writers to file interviews, reviews and other coverage in a timely way instead of waiting for the newspaper to come out ... writing and posting a review the night of a concert, for example.

A couple of other ideas:
- Invite readers to post their photos and comments immediately after and even during concerts and other events
- Make it a habit to phone artists a week before they appear on campus for a Q&A that can serve as a preview or do a video interview in person just before soundcheck and post it right away.
- Beef up the online calendar and reverse the order it appears on the home page so today's events are up top. Build a longer-range calendar exclusively for the website to help readers plan entertainment options and purchase tickets.
- Start new blogs for arts and entertainment to replace the paper-newspaper columnists on the home page, who can find a home on the website's opinion page.

If makes arts and entertainment its signature content, along with breaking news, it'll start attracting a loyal audience who visit the site daily to see what's new. It'll also attract arts and entertainment writers who want the same sort of play on the website that news reporters now enjoy in The Orion.

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