In the second entry in our series to highlight local station projects, we hear from Phil Meyer of WTIU on their new site, NewsMatters.org.
1. Please describe Newsmatters for our readers.
NewsMatters.org is where WTIU (PBS) and WFIU (NPR) compile local, state, national and international online news content.
2. What station or community need are you fulfilling with this project?
The Bloomington local newspaper has concentrated on local news in its print edition and message boards online. They have started to add video to their site, but in a limited way. We want to leverage our on-air resources to distribute information to our viewers and listeners, as well as find a new audience online. We have to serve both the plugged-in college student and the traditional PBS viewer/NPR listener. Indiana University is also home to internationally-recognized experts, whose stories may be of interest to web users outside our broadcast area.
3. Generally, describe the resources it took to create Newsmatters, and the resources required to maintain it.
We began with a WordPress template, and then had to train our News staff how to populate each area. Then we got into specifics about naming conventions, process, digitizing, etc... As far as people go, one person in our Integrated Media department works on improvements, while the majority of what is posted is done so by one of our six full-time news staffers. We also have Indiana University college students helping as either paid crew, interns or for class credit. I use the analogy of launching a third online station to go with our existing radio and TV stations.
4. How can this project be adopted by other stations?
There are many national modules available at no charge for stations with limited online resources. Tools like WordPress can also stretch your resources, because the design work is done for you.
5. What sage words of wisdom do you have for other stations who may want to put in motion something similar? Also, what is the most important thing you learned NOT to do?
Be realistic about what you're getting into -- don't expect your interactive employees to be available for manually updating the content. It either needs to be automated, or easily entered by news personnel.
6. Was the project fun?
The Video Your Vote project with PBS, The NewsHour and YouTube has been the most fun so far. We had other election resources from both PBS and NPR to create our own election coverage online, supplementing what both stations were doing online [ http://wfiu.org/election08/ ].
7. What do you feel is the next big thing in the online media realm?
More video online. Both national and local. We can't wait to get our hands on COVE and experiment with that. And how do you support that economically? I would also say that local blogs are an untapped opportunity for us. While it may seem everyone and their brother has a blog, not many are based (or focus on) southern Indiana.
Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions, Phil! If you have questions for Phil, please post them below.
If your station has an interesting project you'd like to share with the system in an upcoming post, or you've stumbled on something on another station's site that you'd like to know more about, shoot us an email! We hope to make the station spotlight a regular feature on the SP&S blog.