Monday, January 21, 2008

Out of the ghetto

First of all, if you haven't yet seen Blanchard's York County homicides map, you really should, because it's awesome.

Second, it was neat for me because I got a chance to talk to Scott about a concept that I sometimes have a hard time explaining. And that's getting away from the gut instinct to sort content by type instead of topic. I hope I had a chance to explain a little to him about why giving people information on topic is more helpful online.

(An example: We get about five times more clicks to our sports blog, The Lineup Card, from the sports sections online than we do from the Yorkblog home page or our own home page online. That's not to say we can never promote our blogs from a collective place, but it shows concretely what we knew anecdotally to be true: That readers don't come to the site and say, "I want to read some blogs today..." or "I want to watch some video today...," Youtube being the rare exception. Rather, they come and say "I want to read about..." and browse different types of content from there.)

So today, I came upon this awesome post by one of my heroes, Matt Waite, on data ghettos. That's Matt's term for things like Gannett's Data Universe concept, where databases go to sit with their clique and never hang out with the "real journalism."

I'm not saying we'll never have a "database page" on our Web site. In fact, mostly because it's easy for us, internally, we probably will. But it's not easy for readers, so it's not what we'll promote most heavily. We'll work very hard to tie our data sets into related content - our upcoming deed transfer database, for instance, with the page and our business page, where people know to look for that content now.

Take a look at Matt's thoughts. He says it a lot better than I could. And both in his post and the comments that follow, there are some good tips on how to use interactive features to help tell the story, rather than saying, "I want to use video with a story," then letting the story evolve from there.