My plans as DTH’s managing editor for online

9 April 2009

Last night I was hired as The Daily Tar Heel‘s next managing editor for online, and I couldn’t be more excited at the opportunity to lead the paper’s transition to online journalism. My goal and @andrew_dunn‘s goal is for the DTH to be at the forefront of reinventing journalism.

We’ve got a lot of changes in store for dailytarheel.com and the newsroom’s online operations in general.

In the coming weeks, we’ll be moving off the College Media Network and onto a Drupal-based site developed by Stunt3. We hope to launch a beta in mid-May, and the fully featured site will replace the beta by July 1.

Starting in August, you can expect to see updates on dailytarheel.com throughout the day instead of just once a day. We’ll do this by adding online and copy staff to daytime shifts. Copy staffers will be writing SEO’d headlines and Web summaries and posting content. Online staffers will be maintaining the home page, using social networking and developing Web features and applications.

We’ll also be introducing a community manager, who will expand our presence online on Twitter and Facebook and who will cultivate user-generated content. Andrew’s already written about the new Innovation team – let us know if you’re interested.

Other features you can expect to see throughout the year on the Web site:

  • A searchable map of on- and off-campus crime
  • Downtown bar and restaurant guide
  • Standalone galleries for multimedia content
  • Regular podcasts, including a daily podcast talking about the major news of the day and what readers can expect in the next day’s paper
  • A recommend function on articles
  • A mobile edition
  • Content grouped by topic, not desk
  • Liveblogging
  • User-generated content
  • A DTH FAQ to serve as a readers’ guide

We’ve started a DTH internal wiki, we want to transfer DTH e-mail addresses to Gmail accounts, and I’m also looking at ways we can do more of our internal planning online. Throughout it all I plan to chronicle here and on a DTH blog what we’re doing so that other college papers can use it as a resource.

Beyond all this, my job is responsible for training staff to understand and embrace the Web. Reporters will be hyperlinking and tagging their own stories, they’ll learn video and audio, blogging and social media. Staff will learn by doing. Teaching these skills will help us accomplish these other goals.

Andrew and I have lots of ideas about what we can do to improve dailytarheel.com. A lot of it hinges on getting good feedback. What do you think? What should our online newsroom next year include?