Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof

Site Architecture & Strategy

In Architecture, Work materials on May 10, 2007 at 11:52 am

I am occasionally charged by clients with creating the design and strategy for a website they have planned, or with helping them reach a goal toward which I think a website of some sort is the best avenue.

Below is the outline for a site devoted to filling holes in news coverage that I created for a large media concern. The goal is to identify, write up and pitch stories that fall through the gaps, as well as to identify and aggregate more diverse sources, in order to create a resource for show producers to bring their shows more into line with the concerns, and makeup, of their audience, (who, shockingly, are not all straight, white, middle-class Christian men in the 50s from the East Coast).

Architecture and features

The Site’s purpose is to provide coverage of, perspectives by and sources for groups and topics that are underrepresented in the company’s coverage.

The Site is, in essence, a blog. It would share many of the common components and the structure of a blog. But it goes off-page. Among the duties of the editor is, once the stories are written or gathered, sources are identified, and material is posted, to reach out actively to producers, reporters and anchors.

Elements of The Site

* Publishing done in posts: immediacy, RSS
* Posts in reverse chronological order
* Posts assigned to categories: topical navigation
* Posts tagged: topical navigation
* Permalinks: sharable
* Comment fields: conversation
* Feeds: convenience
* Photos
* Podcasting: downloadable, live voice, presence
* Videocasting: downloadable, live voice, presence
* Topic feeds: I could create feeds that pull from news sources, blogs and other sites (using keywords and phrases) to catch and deliver newly published pieces on issues of immediate use

Architecture of The Site

* Two or three column
* Posts in center column
* Blogroll in right column
* Additional tools (topic feeds, etc.) in left column if three, otherwise in right

Additional elements of The Site

* Pitching: selling the stories internally
* Guest authors: specific topics and unique specialist perspectives
* Posted feed pages (pages where the topical feeds are automatically posted in readable posts)
* Digg-style ratings system
* Accessibility: although as editor I will often be busy writing and putting together stories, a larger proportion than usual of my time must be dedicated to fielding, and in some cases, soliciting contributions from readers; My email address, physical location and I.M. address should be published; get-togethers should be scheduled and/or “office hours” for drop-in visits
* Wiki for collaborative authorship, discussion and preservation of The Site’s activities
* Feed other company coverage into the Site, such as the content from specific programs, reporters covering related issues as well as reporters not specifically dedicated to “diversity” issues (military reporters, economic reporters); have the Site act as a clearinghouse for information that fulfills the company’s coverage needs.

Coverage

Coverage in The Site will provide the company’s editorial staff with specifics where they may beforehand have spoken in generalities. The following are both subjects of coverage, as well as an implied audience for coverage. That is, not only will The Site provide a source for learning more about these groups and the individuals that form them, and about the areas and the people who live in them. It will also inform the editorial staff about the concerns of the individuals involved, concerns that beforehand may have been either underrepresented or not covered at all due to an lack of familiarity.

* Ethnic minorities and their members
* Religious communities and their worshipers
* Underrepresented geographic areas and their inhabitants
* Underrepresented social and economic classes and their members
* The elderly
* Native Americans
* Immigrant groups and their members

Authorship & style

* The editor will be the author of most of the posts
* Guest authors will be invited; they will include both representatives of and authorities on the coverage groups, as well as the company’s editorial employees who have done stories on coverage groups
* Commenting will be actively solicited and encouraged among the readers
* Style will depend on the type of post and the author; but in a blog, unlike most journalism, the accessibility and personality of the author is a benefit, not a liability; after all, this is not merely a conduit for information, it is a space for vital conversations
* Types of materials on offer will include brief posts consisting of simple references to other material, interviews, complete articles, analysis, hard news

Development

* Establish text posts
* Add audio (podcasting)
* Add video (vlogcasting)
* Accept and publish independent stories (from non-Site company personnel)
* Host roundtables with live blogging/video coverage

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