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Way back in December, Washington Post Publisher Katharine Weymouth issued a grand strategic memo laying out what the paper should concentrate on in order to thrive/survive. The thing was shot through with platitudes and just poor writing, like this: “Being for, and about Washington, means addressing our local readers’ core needs.”
Well, it looks as if one part of “being for, and about Washington” consists of improving its local Web site, and the paper is currently moving toward one simple and smart way of accomplishing just that.
Giving locals and the rest of the world different homepage presentations=really good idea. Yet Post has exploited it poorly. If you check out the local v. farflung homepages this morning, for instance, you get pretty much the same picture. Both versions feature the same stories up top: An update on the health care debate, a piece about cooperatives, a piece about housing starts, and the death of a former president of South Korea, and a piece on the Nationals. The only real difference is that the Nationals piece gets more prominent play on the local page than on the farflung page.
Via the Post‘s Homepage Differentiation Act of 2009, you won’t have to perform an extensive analysis just to determine which page is local and which is for the rest of the world. The local page will scream local, with local blogs, local headlines, local aggregation, locavore, locomotion, locowhatever! You’ll have to really dig deep into the site to even determine that there’s a world beyond the Beltway! Well, that may be taking things a bit far.
It’s an elegant approach to going hyperlocal without, like, deploying a reporter to every high-school football game in the region.