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Reinventing the News Website


EN.nl (and.nl) is a new project where we are experimenting with new media, users, technology and journalism. This project is an open project where the public process plays an extremely valuable part in designing and shaping the news website.

The online news industry really changed over the last years. I think we’re at a point where every self respecting news organization takes the web as a serious medium that requires a different approach then previous media (newspaper, television, radio).

Some see these new possibilities as a threat and try to protect what they have. Which is I think the worst possible strategy (looking backwards into the future). Others see chances, new competitors, new technology, new journalism, new markets and new ideas.

I love a quote I heard in an interview with someone at the Washington Post. He said his ambition is to be the new CNN. With new media and technology this ambition is realistic. A company like the Washington Post (newspaper) can see CNN (television) as its competitor.

Google / AP
Google can be a news service. Why wouldn’t they? They have the database of intentions, Google knows what people are searching for and they can – like any other company – subscribe to press services. The value of press agency news is devaluating in a way that it often ends up in duplicate copies with a different lay-out. Try to search for an AP article headline. I’m sure you will find a dozen versions of it, all exactly the same.

Online news is moving to something where added value counts. What can you add to the news (omnipresent). Is it a personal or political view? Is it the selection you make? Is it a community? Are it your reporters or journalists? What is your added value?

In technology communities, collaboration tools and social networks are redefining most services and institutions. Why shouldn’t services and technology like this redefine how we consume news?

This is what EN.nl is about. We want to experiment with everything around news from a practical point of view, let’s make things.

Wisdom of Crowds
The Wisdom of Crowds believes a group is smarter than the individual. The Wisdom of a crowd can be very valuable for news. In the public opinion the idea of a wiki collides with news. I think a wiki-based system can work for news if you make sure the process is transparent and everyone can join the discussion.

Sure you will have to deal with vandalism, this a technical problem to solve. A reader doesn’t have to be an expert on everything, the valuable wisdom of an individual can be something he has read or seen somewhere else. The Wisdom of a crowd is about all the knowledge, not just the expert knowledge. The biggest challenge is get the knowledge and use it as a contribution.

Traditional media floats on the wisdom of a few wise people who create value by the choices they make. Social media uses the wisdom of your network en wiki media taps into the wisdom of a crowd. All have advantages and disadvantages.

The design
For the design of this new website we also experiment. The most important object is the database, we designed the database from a view that almost everything is possible with the data. We store a lot of information that might be valuable in the future. This allows us to experiment freely with the design and think up new features. The database is the most valuable asset of a news organization.

The newsriver navigation
Newsriver concept
The newsriver is a principle that regards news as a continues flow of information, where you can hook in whenever you want (An RSS feed). For the first version of EN we are experimenting with this idea in the navigation. I don’t know if this is it, it’s different from the navigation we are used to.

En.nl article newsriver concept

What we can do?
Almost everything. We can make mash-ups, feeds, aggregated pages (screenshot draft design below). Hook in to social networks, extend the wiki functionality, and more. Technically everything is possible.

What does the news site of the future look like? Join the debate and discussion here or in Dutch at http://ontwikkelen.ning.com.

Draft theme page

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