The Internet supplies journalists with organizational opportunities

21 Feb

With the introduction of the Internet, journalists have been handed a nearly unlimited supply of new tools. Another one of these tools is something called a topic page. Topic pages help news organizations organize their articles and topics. Their goal is to provide both a broad overview and a detailed analysis of any topic the searcher wants to learn more about. At its core, a topic page is basically a wikipedia page for news. Many large papers, including the New York Times are already employing these tools.

The benefits topic pages provide journalists are countless. A big advantage is search engine optimization. Being included in a topic page allows an article to move up higher on Google’s search. As a result, more traffic is directed to a particular article or newspaper. This includes small newspapers as well. That helps them to be on the same level as the New York Times or the Washington Post, at least on some levels. On the other side of the token, topic pages allow the searcher to access more information. Now with a simple search, readers have more context right at their finger tips.

In addition to these, the news becomes more reader friendly. Most topic pages list each article with a small summary next to them. It allows readers to cover more news by only getting bite-sized pieces of articles they don’t care about. These topic pages also allow stories to be linked to for a lot longer than before. Any future searches can be directed back to current articles long after the newspapers are thrown away.

Topic papers are an important part of newspapers transitioning into a digital future. Studies show that more than half of the traffic on a website is due to Google searches. That alone shows how important SEO and moving up on Google searches are. They also allow more traffic to archives. The Internet gives journalists virtually unlimited space to use for archives. Topic pages have the potential to resurrect old articles in the archives.

Another similar idea is that of Evergreen pages, suggested by Robert Niles. Evergreen pages are similar but are focused on a particular area of the theme. Niles suggests instead of reporting on sports, you should instead write specifically about something like officiating in the World Cup. Another example of Evergreen pages are investigating the BCS system instead of just reporting on college football. You could also consider writing about the world after Sept. 11 or the characters in the city as opposed to the normal articles about New York.

Another tool journalists should take advantage of is a site called Delicious. I made a stack and tracked the tag “sports.” As a journalist, I could use this tracked tag on delicious to gauge the interest in a topic and then look further to get a more detailed analysis about what my readers are interested in. I could also potentially use this to publicize my blog or paper by listing it with particular tracked tags.

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