Reinventing the News

Related at 11 Ways Print Journalism Can Reinvent Itself

A couple of years ago, I had what might have been the coolest newspaper job on the planet.

My paper, the News & Record in Greensboro, NC, began to remake its Web site as what we ended up calling the Town Square.

We intended to use interactive tools such as blogs and reader comments on stories, and to greatly enrich the appearance and usability of our site, to engage our readers more directly and collaboratively than the newspaper industry historically had done. And we wanted our readers involved as contributors. I was asked to report on how we might do it, and after I turned the report in I was assigned to begin acting on those recommendations.

We gathered suggestions from all over the country as I prepared the report. More started pouring in once I posted the report on my N&R blog. What we said we were going to do got a lot of attention – from our readers, from trade publications such as Editor & Publisher, on journalism blogs and in such general-interest publications as The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.

I’d love to say we made it all happen. We didn’t. We did, however, learn some lessons. A lot of what we learned is specific to newspaper Web sites, but some of it could be valuable to people in other lines of work, particularly with respect to major projects that involve interacting with customers.

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