Week6: Topic Pages Gaining in Popularity

22 Feb

As the Internet becomes more important with each passing year, we are constantly trying to find new ways of updating and improving it.  In 2001, Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger created Wikipedia, which has now become the leading online source for information, with over 20 million freely useable articles as of January 2012.  But now journalists and news organizations are discovering a new way to compile information, with much more in-depth coverage.  The concept is called “topic pages,” and it’s beginning to catch on at big news organizations.

A topic page is essentially a “dynamically generated web page that gives readers detailed context on the given topic,” according to NewsCred.  Robert Niles of The Online Journalism Review describes it as a “single element within a theme – not just sports, for example, but on soccer officiating in the World Cup.”  So, in essence, topic pages are designed to provide news context on any given subject, so that the reader can have access to a large amount of information right in front of him or her.  Topic pages are not designed to be updated daily or weekly.  Unlike most news sources, which are constantly updated, the information on a topic page should last months or even years.  For example, The Arizona Republic has an investigative series on its website called “BCS: The Money.  The Games.”  On this particular webpage, you can find a compilation of stories and news articles that relate to several different hot topics related to the BCS.  These topics range from the controversial salaries that top BCS executives make, to the expenses involved for colleges to play in the BCS.  Each individual category has its own set of linked articles providing the reader with a wealth of knowledge and information.  Anyone choosing to research the BCS in-depth could do so using just this webpage alone.  This is the goal of a topic page.  

NewsCred, which is a content strategies blog, identifies some basic guidelines on creating a workable topic page.  Included in NewsCred’s list of standard elements of a topic page are:

  • A bio or summary
  • A timeline of events or detailed summary
  • A list of important articles from this source
  • A list of important articles from trusted sources around the web
  • Multimedia such as video, images, audio, podcasts, maps etc
  • A list of related topics

Incorporating all of these elements ensures a great topic page, and the benefits of creating a great page are numerous.  Not only will you be providing more depth and content for your users, you will also see an increase in ad revenue and sponsorship opportunities.  Money is always the bottom line — so anything that generates more money for any given publication is a plus.

http://www.delicious.com/stacks/view/PaswsI

Above is the link to my Delicious account.  Having a Delicious account can be beneficial to journalists in several ways.  The most obvious is that once the account is created, it is much easier to keep track of frequently used websites.  The user is able to organize and apply tags to all of his or her bookmarked favorites, so that they are easier to identify and find.  Journalists who wish to share their tagged favorites may do so because the account is public.  So, for example, if there are a group of journalists all working for the same publication in one newsroom, they would be able to share all of their favorite sources of information with each other.  This encourages teamwork and collaboration.

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