USAToday.com is going to launch a major site redesign this weekend, which will include a number of social networking features, ability for readers to vote and comment on stories -- and journalists interacting as well.
You're going to see USA TODAY journalists around the site: creating profiles, joining you in conversation, asking you for your thoughts and experiences around different stories, and looking to create connections that help build better journalism. There's a concept here called "network journalism" -- the idea that reporting can drive readers and readers can drive reporting.
New USATODAY.com ready to launch
Big changes are coming to USATODAY.com. Starting this weekend, you'll have more interactive opportunities, see a dramatic new design and find a new way of thinking about the news.
USATODAY.com's aim is to create a community around the news, one that connects readers to reporting. In its 25 years as "The Nation's Newspaper," USA TODAY has always tried to listen to a variety of readers and understand what's important to them. As the next logical step, we're building the nation's newspaper into the nation's conversation.
For starters, you're able to write a comment on every story on the new site. But there's more. Once you become a member of USATODAY.com (it's free), you get a profile page. If you've already joined, and many of you have, you can start working on your profile this weekend. You're welcome to leave it empty, but you can fill it up with information about yourself, upload your photos, start an entire blog and begin to explore the rest of the community. Whenever you see a comment on the new site, you can click on the commenter's name, find out what they've told the world about themselves, make them your friends, leave them public messages and see where they've left comments. The conversation is fair and responsible that way. Instead of trying to be a social networking site, we want to keep the personalities and conversation open in a way that focuses on the news. After all, news and information are the reasons we're here.
And we're here, too -- editors and reporters. You're going to see USA TODAY journalists around the site: creating profiles, joining you in conversation, asking you for your thoughts and experiences around different stories, and looking to create connections that help build better journalism. There's a concept here called "network journalism" -- the idea that reporting can drive readers and readers can drive reporting.
Many of the pieces that create this conversation will be small. You'll have the comments, the profiles and more. Every story will let you "vote" for it, bumping it up a list of most-recommended stories. Every story will also let you chart alternative paths through the news, using the keywords in one story to take you to other stories with the same keywords. Similarly, every story with a USA TODAY byline will let you click and instantly find more stories by that reporter.
Even the traditional paths on our site -- the homepage and section front pages -- will send you in new directions. The news mix will be more varied, bringing you the day's developments in all areas of life but also putting special focus on coverage unique to USA TODAY. We'll also be exposing automated feeds of what we're publishing and showing what's most popular on the site. The new homepage will feature lists of most-read, most-sent, most-commented and most-recommended stories. On Deadline and other blogs will appear on fronts as well, giving context and competing reports on the day's headlines. Taking that approach a step further, we'll even provide our competitors' live news feeds, and link you straight to their sites.
Want more? We'll have open forums where readers can talk to each other and set their own topics. We'll ask you for photos around different stories and events, and we'll give you an easy way to upload them to us. We'll put a "Report Abuse" button on every piece of content, so we can all help keep the site civil and smart. We'll pick certain topics for special focus, allowing reporters and readers to explore them together.
On Deadline has already seen some of this network journalism. A while back, a USA TODAY reporter saw On Deadline readers discussing her story about cancer treatments and sharing their experiences. She began talking to a number of the commenters, and one of them became the lead on her next story. Other parts of USA TODAY have seen the same, online and in print. Now we've decided to broaden the mission and change our site to serve the conversation.
So, watch the site. Change is coming, and you can be a part of it.
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