5 Keys To Creating A Cutting-Edge Online Newsroom

What should an online newsroom look like?

I’ve spent a fair bit of time in the last few days researching the current state of online newsrooms. I’ve looked at the private sector and the public sector, both within Canada (federal, provincial and municipal) and internationally.

My conclusion: most organizations aren’t using their newsrooms effectively.

From the 28 newsrooms I examined, most limit their new media functionality to RSS feeds. A few incorporate ‘new media’ elements like video or audio; fewer still include social media features.

What characterizes a leading-edge online newsroom?

What would help a newsroom stand out from the masses?

  1. Built on a blogging platform
    • Allows direct user input via comments
    • Permits trackbacks, to show reactions on other sites
    • Ideally incorporates a regularly-updated organizational blog
  2. Uses categories/tagging to classify content
    • Categorizes content with relevant tags
    • Displays tag cloud or list on the newsroom homepage
    • Identifies relevant articles via those tags
    • Allows news to be viewed by key topics, built-in to the navigation
  3. Makes multimedia content easily available throughout
    • Graphical, photographic, video and audio resources accessible from the homepage
    • Provides relevant multimedia content from each document
  4. Makes content easy to access and share
    • Uses social media tools (Flickr and YouTube are obvious examples)
    • Allows users to bookmark and share content through sites like del.icio.us, Digg, Technorati (leading sites commonly allow sharing via up to 14 sites)
    • Provides RSS feeds for all newsroom areas including key topics
    • Advanced search capabilities
  5. Social media news releases
    • See the template here

I don’t think all of these features are essential. There’s no ‘one size fits all’ solution. However, for a newsroom to truly consider itself a leader I think it should aspire to all five feature sets.

My conclusions largely mirror those of Todd Defren and his colleagues, who launched the social newsroom template back in February.

Who are the leaders?

From the limited sample I examined, three stood out:

  • Great post Dave – great research as well!

    re: point 1 (built on a blogging platform) – this will ensure you can use t’rati tags and draw people from its community (and vice versa).

    i believe it will (at some point) also support the use of the microformats such as the “hRelease” or the “hAtom” tag – http://tinyurl.com/ysfmw7

    Ed