Monday, September 9, 2013

Making the Most Out of the New Website

The Orion's transition to a new web presence is days away, and the change is a good opportunity to get into some web-centric habits.

The new site has a breaking-news scroll at the top of the home page that will run off a special category folder exclusive of the standard news folder. This is the ideal place to run tweets from @theorion_news and @theorion_sports so visitors can see reporters' and photographers' work from the field.

In a perfect world, the editors would find a plug-in that could scrape those Twitter feeds and automatically pop them into a breaking-news folder. If that isn't feasible, the next best approach would be for staffers to access the new content management system, Camayak, remotely and upload photos, brief, 100-word stories and stories with video links so editors can put them in the folder.

Speaking of video, reporters at news events should be capturing 15-second snippets of video with their phones or cameras and uploading them to YouTube so they can be edited and added to or linked to stories. They should also be using Vine or the new Videolicious to create stories immediately available and embedded in the Gallery area on the website.

In the near future, it would be great if reporters or the video team used a tool such as Qik to do live video feeds from events.

This is all going to take communication and coordination with the newsroom. Managing Editor Quinn Western and the other editors need to know when news is happening so someone can edit and post news to the website. Having breaking news doesn't do readers any good if they can't see it on the website.

The changeover would also be a good time to review the news diamond I wrote about last year. It's a process of newsgathering specifically for the web that feeds stories in different forms to the paper's various platforms. I think the most crucial new habit to develop is learning to move a story from tweet to news brief to web post to newspaper story and then to engage readers with other content: polls, Facebook discussions, crowdsourcing, etc. Reader engagement needs to be more than posting on Facebook when something appears in the print edition.

The step of posting a brief story to the website hasn't actually happened at The Orion, to my knowledge.

It's time to start.

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