Using topic pages for content management

22 Feb

One of the great advantages about the digital media wave is how easy it is to categorize interests and stay up-to-date on a narrow set of subjects of particular interest to you. RSS readers can easily organize blogs for users, and publications’ websites make it easy to skip ahead to your interests — as opposed to flipping through a paper just to get to the sports section. One of the more subtle but effective innovations of the online news transition has been the topic page.

Topic pages compile information on topics for readers to have a go-to location for news and updates on at their convenience much in the way sections in a newspaper split up broader subjects like sports and local news. In addition to news articles, topic pages also have “evergreen” content such as background information and online communities for users to comment and interact. News giants like The New York Times and BBC News have embraced the idea of a built-in infrastructure within their brand for niche audiences, and have set up pages for topics like global warming and special reports.

The idea that content is not driven by the latest  news but by the raw relevance of the information itself may be unusual for many journalists because this idea seems to go against general journalistic protocol in today’s day. However, the hyper-specific subject matter coupled with the presentation of good information over new information makes evergreen topic pages stand apart from other news sources or platforms. Strong background information is a necessity for readers, but one that is not necessarily provided by the news source with the latest scoop.

The Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Wash. is one of the many publications using this method to distribute information. Its summary of the year’s events on one page condenses issues to background information and relevant detail to give readers a more generalized idea of news impact instead of minutia. Research has shown that the younger audience the Internet and online media often cater to know fully well what information they want to find, so topic pages provide easy access for a reliable audience without over-saturating readers with an excess of information. One of the bigger concerns is that topic pages might not be able to retain a strong enough audience based on their content, but with SEO becoming a more refined science in recent years, savvy journalists should be able to hold a readership with stimulating content, interactive usability and visibility.

In an effort to condense the news for the news-claustrophobic generation, social bookmarking sites like Delicious have proven to be a great way to keep up-to-date with specific pages and content. This would be especially useful for journalists who want to compile research and articles for aggregation by subject or tag. From personal experience, it can be difficult to wade through research or important websites in a browser’s Favorites alone, so being able to organize these in a streamlined way — as well as share them with co-workers and fellow journalists — is a great tool.

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One Response to “Using topic pages for content management”

  1. Ronald R. Rodgers February 22, 2012 at 7:42 pm #

    Well done! Good links.

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