Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Online headlines: Sometimes you must think about the long tail

Online headlines live forever.

It's worth remembering that when you see a hed like this days and weeks after a person's death:

The news of the moment might be that this famous order caller at The Beacon restaurant will "lie in repose," though one might suggest the headline is pretty dull for such a well-known character (and is "in repose" really conversational)?

But two days from now, when people are still coming to your site for this news, or five, 10 or 30 days later, you can look silly with this head.

Do it if you must for the moment - but then update it later.

(There is a later story about Stroble's funeral, but the problem I see is that this earlier story is the "base" story - the big take-out on his life that is likely to be the main one people come back to down the road.)

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At 9/12/13, 7:22 AM, Blogger Tom Priddy said...

I normally agree with you, Doug, but I'm unclear about this issue. This story is not the "base" JC Stroble story. This one is the base:

The story you point out is simply a middle story between the initial notice and the funeral story. And all the related stories are displayed down the left side of the page, indicating the timeline of the story. This is just a part of that timeline.


At 9/12/13, 10:16 AM, Blogger Doug said...

I don't think the story you link to is the "base" as I define it. Yes, it is the first story, but the one I link to is the one that brings Stroble's live to -- well -- life. It's the one more likely to show up in search engines (in fact, it was on top of the pile when I checked yesterday). So this is the first hed you see.
It's great that you have all the stories listed - that's the way it should be. But we can't just do one-and-done on headlines in this case. Many times the original will suffice. But one of the problems with trad newsrooms has been not understanding the long tail and how to work within it. This is an example, I think.

At 9/12/13, 10:40 AM, Blogger Tom Priddy said...

Our SEO stinks right now, so there's no telling what will show up on a search. (The State used our first-day story, they got the top position that day, not us.)

However, you have made some valid comments, as usual, and we are taking them to heart.

Take care.


At 9/12/13, 10:50 AM, Blogger Doug said...

t's meant in the best spirit of critique, not criticism.

We have (sometimes long) discussions about this in class with the students who work for The Gamecock.

If you haven't seen this ... it gives such things a bit more urgency.


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