The Future of News

Ryan Thornburg

Posts Tagged ‘design

I Filter, You Summarize?

Clay Shirky said we don’t suffer from information overload, but filter failure. That sounds right to me. Despite by efforts to use social and technical filters to focus my daily doses of e-mail newsletters, RSS feeds and tweets, I still find myself swamped with more words than I can read in the hour I’ve given myself to “read-in” each day. I am much more efficient at pulling things that might be interesting than carefully reading text for anything that’s actually new and noteworthy.

So here’s a new deal I’m going to start trying. I find the headlines and I ask you to filter back to me the new facts, missing info and impact of the stories. If you read one of the stories that pass my filter, will kindly post one comment if you find anything interesting in the articles themselves?

Here’s what passed through my filter today:
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Why Do We Need a CMS?

A bit of career advice for anyone in an online news organization: Never get roped in to leading the creation of your site’s new content management system. Yes, you may realize that the business rules that underly the CMS will determine who has the power to make decisions in your newsroom, but CMS projects are like storming the beach at Normandy — even if it’s successful, many involved in the operation will not survive.

With that optimistic image fresh in your mind, let’s look at what CMSs do and why your news organization needs one.

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Newspaper Design and iTunes Cover Flow

One of the complaints that news Web site designers often hear from readers who prefer print is that it is tough to tell when you’re “done” reading a news Web site. In print, physical cues let readers know when they’re done skimming through everything that the editors thought was important to print that day. But online, a labyrinth of links leaves some readers disoriented and anxious about when it’s OK to stop reading.

Enter FluidTunes..

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Written by Ryan Thornburg

December 5, 2008 at 12:43 pm

Posted in Innovation

Tagged with , , , ,

Research Question: Teaser Heads Online

Although I don’t hear this as often as I once did, the claim that online heads shouldn’t give away the whole story is one that pops up now and again in my conversations with editors. The editors — addled by increasing pressure to increase revenue by increasing ad inventory by increasing page views — surmise (rightly) that some readers come to their homepages simply for a quick nibble of news headlines, and that online news editors should, therefore, write teaser heads that don’t give away the milk.

On one hand, maybe they’re right. After all, teasers have been a feature of broadcast news for years.

On the other hand, this mentality flies in the face of just giving the customer what he or she wants. And, as we all know, the customer is always right.

So, how much of a tease will the online audience tolerate? Are younger readers, who are more likely to quickly click links in search of the information they want, more likely than older readers, who often carefully assess their choices before clicking on a link, more tolerant of teaser heads? Does the perceived urgency or relevancy of a headline cause readers to be more or less likely to click on teaser heads? Is there some measurement of vagueness that would allow us to find the right balance between serving our reader customers and serving our advertising customers?

Written by Ryan Thornburg

May 8, 2008 at 9:47 pm

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