Keys to successful online news sites

To help you prep for your midterm paper, we need some metrics by which to evaluate online news sites in the Web 2.0 environment. What makes a site stand out?

Take 15 minutes to read this post, follow the links to see examples, and come up with your own synthesis of what matters. How could you use this to critique the site you’re analyzing for the midterm?

Okay, Ready? My Coordinates for a Successful News Site (PressThink) … about this post, which first appeared here, a news exec said: “It comes as close as anything I’ve seen to a roadmap for the near future.”

(The focus here, of course, is news, and so if you’re looking at a non-news site, some of these won’t apply … and, yet, on another level they do — for all they’re all about engaging reader/participants in creating information that has timeliness, relevance, and value. So, what’s your case-study site doing to collaborate, contribute, create in a truly value-added way?)


  • What key features make a news site “sticky” for you personally?
  • Can you come up with some “coordinates” that might have gone missing from this list?
  • To what extent could/should these ideas be applied to mobile platforms?
  • How do these coordinates fit in the context of digital culture, Web 2.0, and the like?
  • What could your target site learn from this?

Now, turn to your partner and for a couple of minutes tell ’em what’s working and what’s not with the site/blog/etc. that you’ve chosen for the midterm case study.

Then, post a quick synopsis in the comments section. That will help me see where you’re going with this assignment, and allow me to give you some feedback where needed. (Check back later today for my comments in reply.)


2 Responses to “Keys to successful online news sites”

  1. 1 pieper12 October 1, 2008 at 1:04 pm

    The site I am covering is It is basically a site with a plain black background that the author created as a platform for the community to upload their content. There are many points in Rosen’s post that the author of postsecret does not use. The site is entirely an open-interface one in which all of the conten is generated from the diverse group of users.

    Frank Warren, the site’s author, does not impose any restrictions or gate-keeping tactics because that would defeat his purpose. The site gives users the chance to voice their secrets, some being way deeper than others.

    I think Rosen’s list is a very good list and great way to evaluate a good blog or website. really acts as a fun and entertaining site, almost like a diary.

  2. 2 Holley N October 3, 2008 at 1:55 am

    The site I am profiling is Talking Points Memo. The creator, Joshua Micah Marshall, definitely draws a large audience, and I really think it is because he does so many of these things Jay Rosen talks about in this list. I think, “high quality aggregation within a strong editorial focus,” is one of the primary things TPM does. It links to political news from traditional news sites, features posts by Joshua Micah Marshall (and the few people he hires,) and it also provides viewers the opportunity to contribute through comments, and their own TPM blog. TPM has a feature that allows you to “recommend” on each post, which moves the posts with the most recommendations to the top of the list.

    More than anything else, I think what really plays the largest role in the success of this site is the mixture of original reporting (by himself and staff members,) and amateur reporters. He realizes he cannot do everything, so he relies on the lawyers, doctors, “average joe,” to do the research work for him, essentially crowdsourcing.

    After looking at all of the items on Rosen’s list, I really think Marshall meets everything on this list, which is evident in the success of his site. However, Marshall also has a number of other sites (TPM café, TPM Muckraker…) that are branched off of the mother site, TPM, that allow him to meet more of Rosen’s requirements. But, this isn’t to say there isn’t some ways for him to improve.

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