One of the articles that we read this week was called “What Can I Build Today?” from the Columbia Journalism Review. The article talks about innovation as it should be applied to individual areas.
The basic idea is that not everyone can be Steve Jobs, so online news startups should be innovative to the community that they are trying to reach. The author, Michael Meyer, gave some examples of sites that are doing it well and others that aren’t doing it quite so well. He suggested that smaller sites should try to be innovative in a current mindset, not always looking toward the future, but instead looking to the present to provide what the readers really need and want.
One of the sites that Meyer mentioned was the Birmingham-based Weld. Literally hitting close to home for me (I was born and raised in and around Birmingham), I decided to check it out. One of the first things I noticed was the fact that the political section of the site, called Second Front, is done in a blog-style format. I love when the news media organizes posts in that fashion. It puts the news in a reverse chronological order, so it is clear that the highest post is the most recent. (I’ll be honest here, that’s the reason I read E! News as opposed to People. When I need my guilty pleasure fix of celebrity news, E! is a lot easier to follow.)
The site also uses tags on all of its posts, but they are not tiny gray letters under the headlines. They come in the form of color blocks to the left so the reader can clearly see if news is national, local, developing or whatever else.
So maybe Weld isn’t run by geniuses like Steve Jobs, but just after checking it out one time, I think they seem to be running a pretty sound operation that caters to the needs of the audience.