Some time ago, I wrote a post called promoting communities on newspaper websites, which suggested local newspapers could do more to help communities develop on their sites.
To try to illustrate what I meant, I have now created a dummy newspaper website which does four things:
- Allows readers to create an online profile on the website, or to use an existing Facebook profile
- Provides ways for readers to interact with each other on the site
- Provides ways for readers to interact with journalists and bloggers on the site, on an equal basis
- Allows readers to share things, such as links, articles, videos and photos, to create content on forums and to advertise events
It's still clear what's been written by the paper's journalists and news is presented in a traditional manner (perhaps something else that deserves consideration in the future) but it is integrated with the "community" features of the site rather than separated.
Each journalist has a profile containing all sorts of information designed to help readers and hacks interact, and the profiles are presented alongside those of readers.
The features of the dummy site are fully functional. It does not, however, contain any real news or advertising - the news stories, blog posts, forum posts etc either contain information about the features of the site, or are placeholders.
It's not meant to be the "best" or perfect way of designing a news website, and it certainly doesn't have the perfect design. It may have a few bugs.
But it is designed to illustrate the sort of thing I think local newspapers could and should be doing more of. Or maybe I'm wrong - take a look and tell me what you think.