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  1. #1
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    How do you produce original content in a news site?

    News...most of the time, is not original. Unless you have a team of journalists, or it happened in your backyard, something of importance would have already made the rounds in a few hours before you read about it.

    If your website is going to be reporting about news already posted on the net, what kind of hooks or draws would you use to get dedicated visitors? I want to report news, but with my own scheme of organizing views and reactions from visitors. What's the best bet for an upstart in a sea of news sites? (I am going for a niche, not a general news site)

  2. #2
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    What's the best bet for an upstart in a sea of news sites? (I am going for a niche, not a general news site)
    There are a number of ways. First, you can write with a personality and/or background which gives news a fresh twist.

    Next, it is not unheard of to get on the phone or email, contact an original source and do an original interview. If it is technology, get in touch with a local source of technology and work out a way to actually experience the technological gadget you're reviewing.

    It's called developing sources. This is what real reporters do every day of the week.

    Next every new news item is usually shallow in coverage. For example, let's say you're covering Amazon's new gadget, Kindle.

    Sounds like a promising gadget ....right up until you discover the long, sad, history of similar gadgets. Perhaps you also turn up a new gadget that is everything Kindle should have been.

    What you do is, instead of one very shallow link to the Amazon Kindle page, or a superficial review of Kindle, you review the industry of electronic books. And you find the reason these things are so unsuccessful ...and then you explain that connecting thread of meaning.

    So, instead of particles which are shallow and pointless, you connect the dots between related events. Give some history. Do research.

    Web writers want to trash TV, radio, and print. Fine. But in the vast majority of cases they are doing the criticism on a foundation of quicksand. Go out and do some original thinking about the facts. Couple it with a smidgen of original research and add some context.

    Really if you can't figure out original hooks and draws, don't start the site.

    Related:

    Journalism sourcing

    Open Source Journalism The web is just now figuring this out.

  3. #3
    SitePoint Addict BlazeMiskulin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ccRicers View Post
    I want to report news, but with my own scheme of organizing views and reactions from visitors.
    I believe you've answered your own question.

    "News" is a list of facts. How it's presented is what makes it interesting to the target audience. Take a look at any piece of national news, then look at how it's presented by Fox, CBS, the Chicago Tribune, and the Wall Street Journal. You'll see 4 very different perspectives, and 4 different sets of details--even if they all got their information from the same AP News Wire.

    First, decide who your audience is (who you want it to be). Then decide what your "slant" will be to appeal to that audience. Will the readers want lots of details, or just capsule summarizations? Will they want historical perspective? Do they want to know how this affects their children? Their parents? Their pets? Do they want to just read the news or do they want to be able to comment on it? Are they liberal? Conservative? Moderate? Extremist? Reactionary? Are they local, international, or in between?

    ... and the list goes on.

    I would suggest sitting down and writing up a "typical profile" for who you think your audience is. List 25 or 50 characteristics such as education level, gender, age, interests, political affiliation, etc. Once you know who this "person" is, write your articles for that person. As comments and other responses and reactions come in, tweak the profile as need be to get a better representation of who "Mr. Audience" is.
    M Blaze Miskulin
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  4. #4
    Word Painter silver trophy Shyflower's Avatar
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    Excellent advise Blaze! I've put it down on my checklist. I think this should work for web publisher sites as well as news sites. The more you target in on your audience, the better are your chances of writing content that interests them.

    To the OP:
    If you are thinking of doing a site with just news feeds, you should really rethink your strategy. Those who want news feeds can get as many as they want on their yahoo or google browser home page... and what would be their incentive to go to your site, in this case?

    The problem with rewriting news is that by the time you research and rewrite it, it's old news. You'll need to think of new slants to ongoing stories to make your site a success.

    Introduce your site with a block of text dedicated to your audience. Tell them what they'll find on your site and why it's important to them. If it's a blog, put the block of text in an "About" side bar or at the top of your blog template.
    Linda Jenkinson
    "Say what you mean. Mean what you say. But don't say it mean." ~Unknown

  5. #5
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    Thank you all for your advice. Maybe I should be a little more clear about my goals and plans for the site. It is supposed to be like a blogs-meets-forums kind of site. The idea of seamlessly integrating both types has interested me for a while. I am also thinking about letting members create their own groups and picking stories that would interest those particular groups.

    So Shyflower, you're right, just having newsfeeds doesn't cut it anymore. I'm starting to move beyond and hoping to get some actual member interaction going on. My audience would be reflective of the "slant" I put on the site, I would guess, right? I want to target video gamers, but more specifically gamers that can engage in more mature discussions, instead of making garbage posts that make you look like a hyperactive 13-year old. So I'm guessing a more frank and bold response to news, instead of a shallow view, would fit that slant.

  6. #6
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    blogs-meets-forums kind of site.
    While interesting, the devil is in the details. I would suggest a heavy dose of interaction design methodology and user testing, as you've set out in a new direction.

    Finally, developing industry sources is still crucial. It still sounds as though we're talking about the technology, not the reason for the technology. Very reminiscent of Kindle (let's merge books and computers) ...Why? Because we can.

    So many people are so gung ho about doing something because they can, when the more important question remains is it desirable.

    Right now this isn't developing into a content discussion, as it looks as though we've got a "build it (technology) and the content will come" model. The two default models on the internet turn out to be why not and because we can. Neither default much concerns what content might be written, for who, or why.

  7. #7
    SitePoint Wizard Darren884's Avatar
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    Simple: Put it in your own words.
    Have a good day.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by ccRicers View Post
    News...most of the time, is not original. Unless you have a team of journalists, or it happened in your backyard, something of importance would have already made the rounds in a few hours before you read about it.

    If your website is going to be reporting about news already posted on the net, what kind of hooks or draws would you use to get dedicated visitors? I want to report news, but with my own scheme of organizing views and reactions from visitors. What's the best bet for an upstart in a sea of news sites? (I am going for a niche, not a general news site)
    well........writing a news artcle is little different from writing articles on other topics because here you have to write the same thing but little differently.

    To make your news origional or to bring some origionality to your news you can change headlines in your own way by adding some logical terms but it must focus onthe same.......and after reading news earlier on net and if you understand all about the news you can write it in your own words that's it.

  9. #9
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    ...you have to write the same thing but little differently.
    Only if you're regurgitating from one source, like a press release.


    Even if the topic is gaming:

    ...You can request an interview from the development team.

    ...You can compare two, three or more games or gaming machines side-by-side

    ...You can get the point of view of new, intermediate and advanced gamers

    ...You can write an article about a category of gaming, giving background for a specific game

    ...You can write from a certain point of view usually missing from gaming, for instance female gamers or parents

    Opinions to the contrary, there is a lot you can do to distinguish a site from the vast majority who approach writing like they're managing their cholesterol level.

    Related:

    A sample review on Gamespot showing a lot of scanable data The objective is to relate a single review to others, providing the reader with context. Very few care about a game in isolation, they want to know about other games in comparison, what represents a good value for your money, etc.

    GamerDad - Game Reviews From a Parental Perspective!

  10. #10
    phpLD Fanatic bronze trophy dvduval's Avatar
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    In my opinion the question should be...
    How can I make my news site stand out from the others?
    Why would someone come to my site versus the others?

    When it comes to news, everyone has an opinion about it, and finding ways to appeal to people's passions is what journalists have been doing for years. Some are especially sharp such as the tabloids, and others are especially detailed in their coverage, while still others tend to be more conservative or liberal.

    You just need to decide who you are targeting, and then try to grow to include more people over time that will become your "journalists".

  11. #11
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    Great comments here...this is why I love sitepoint.

  12. #12
    SitePoint Enthusiast godlover's Avatar
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    pictures of latest happenings
    Believe in God who loves you so much.....i am in Love
    www.ilovemoses.com
    www.torahbeliever.com
    www.iloveyoutorah.com * www.cannotstaywithoutgod.com *

  13. #13
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    I sometimes report my own findings. I sometimes comment on others, Make your site a blog, about news... (snip) my site is doing really great. Started a few months ago... Has a loyal fan base already.
    Last edited by Shyflower; Nov 29, 2007 at 06:00. Reason: removed self-promotional link

  14. #14
    SitePoint Guru marcel's Avatar
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    From my experience, 1 hired writer with personality is better than 10 writers with bland facts and details.

    Be biased but have a honest opinion.

  15. #15
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    very true, does not matter if you are bias... That is your niche. People will not come back to your site if you do not provide something different.

  16. #16
    SitePoint Evangelist stef25's Avatar
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    check out thesuperficial.com. i couldnt care less about celebrity culture, but this guy writes his posts in such a funny way that i just have to check it out every now and then. everything he posts is covered in a zillion other places on and offline; his writing style is what makes me visit that site.
    I need someone to protect me from
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  17. #17
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    Better to put own words, write personally or hire professional services.....

  18. #18
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    What's really sad is that in the attempt to attract more visitors some news sites and especially tabloids start false reports or focus on accidents exclusively , this is what makes me avoid news sites.

  19. #19
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    Very interesting thoughts and comments. Much appreciated.

  20. #20
    SitePoint Guru clink's Avatar
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    I agree with many of the comments above, it's not what's written but how it's written. If something informs me in an entertaining or interesting way I'll go back to it.

  21. #21
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    I love all the posts on this thread...I am so glad I signed up with the site. I think that as long as you are putting the article in your own words without using someones exact idea...youre going to be ok.

    I mean on most issues there are more than just one or two sides to the story, so its not like youre going to completely agree with any one person...and if you do happen to agree totally and absolutely with someone...then just put it in your own words and you have done nothing wrong. I hope I have helped in some way...Good luck to you

  22. #22
    SitePoint Member rush4rk's Avatar
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    good points there! must bookmark ^.^

  23. #23
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    I think when the subject is gaming there is a tendency to throw up one's hands and say "Well what could you possibly write?"

    I would suggest you take a look at the recent storm that's brewing with Gamespot.

    Rumor: GameSpot Editor Fired Over Low Review Score

    There is no earthly reason to write dull, repetitive and derivative regurgitations of what everyone else is doing except one: Failure of Imagination.
    Last edited by DCrux; Dec 3, 2007 at 09:28.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by ccRicers View Post
    News...most of the time, is not original. Unless you have a team of journalists, or it happened in your backyard, something of importance would have already made the rounds in a few hours before you read about it.
    News is original. The news you find on sites that reword real news stories is not original. What you're talking about isn't news- it's plagiarism. Even if you reorder the words, it's plagiarism. A real journalist went out and dug up those stories, hit the pavement doing interviews and put together a complete story. You taking that story, rewriting it and placing it on your site will open you up to lawsuits. I would think up another idea.

    You could make a site where you comment on the news, with a link to the original story, but you can't just steal stories.
    The Writer Site, my site for writing samples.

    The PLR, my new PLR site. Categories are regularly being added.

  25. #25
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    News is original. The news you find on sites that reword real news stories is not original. What you're talking about isn't news- it's plagiarism. Even if you reorder the words, it's plagiarism. A real journalist went out and dug up those stories, hit the pavement doing interviews and put together a complete story. You taking that story, rewriting it and placing it on your site will open you up to lawsuits. I would think up another idea.
    Yes, that sums it up nicely. I compare it to the napsterization of music. Most people aren't journalists or writers -- they're Napster for text.

    Even if it happened last month, you can usually do original research, talk to people and turn up a new angle. Some stories are broken, go nowhere, brew for a month or three ...and then erupt onto the scene as newsworthy when someone adds new reporting which reframes the issue.

    One thread here which goes into this is Content Idea: Do an interview.

    What all this boils down to is simple laziness. Why think when you can regurgitate? The trouble is laziness is clearly communicated in the simple minded monkey-see monkey-do nature of the web.

    People care about plagiarism about as much as they do file sharing. They wanted it -- it's theirs -- finders keepers. And they'll do mental backflips rationalizing it.

    Funny thing about that: They'll do more mental calculation and creative thinking on plagiarizing something, disguising and rationalizing why, than it would take to research and write original content in the first place.

    ....Then they'll spend triple the amount of money they "saved" by not writing good, original content to qualify for pagerank on SEO gimmicks to rig pagerank.


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