Mixing the traditional and the postmodern in online news

Over at Information Architects, there’s a novel hypothetical redesign of washingtonpost.com kicking around.

Novel, because it mixes a print-style page above the fold, a la the nytimes.com homepage, and a completely ahead-of-its-time user-driven bottom half below the fold, with links to the most popular and most commented stories, but also a social network based on readers and journalists partying together, sourcing tomorrow’s print edition out of comments on today’s online edition.

In the comments on the iA post, there are plenty of folks getting hung up on the word ‘wiki’ and others stopped by the whole yesterday/today/tomorrow architecture of the page, but I’m far more interested in giving readers access to those “65 journalists online” and the unfortunately-named “Informants Wanted” heading. (Oliver: Try ‘Sources.’)

I love the idea of Digg-like profiles for readers. “What I’m reading” pages and “What I commented on” lists should be essential to a newspaper’s social network. Also, building audio and video comments into a newspaper site would be frigging awesome. There’s plenty of third-party web services that do it now, but wouldn’t it be nice to roll it right into your own database?

Check out the ‘wiki schematics‘ post that followed, and again, try to get over the fact that they’re calling it a ‘wiki’ or thinking of building it out that way. Just look at the flow of information between reporters, readers, and the online and print editions of the paper. Think about how you can write that second-day print edition story based on all the information that bubbles up after you post the online version at noon the prior day.

Now think about how to start bringing some of these ideas into your own newsroom.

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