HOME
          
LATEST STORY
Los Angeles is the content future
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
July 24, 2009, 5:45 p.m.

AnnArbor.com: A new look for local news

Picking up the pieces a day after the 174-year-old daily Ann Arbor News published its final edition, its online successor AnnArbor.com was launched today. To the credit of its editors and designers, it’s a brand new approach to online daily news, featuring a blog-style chronological presentation of news items that can be accessed via a variety of topical and neighborhood headings.

Interspersed with the news are “deals”: labeled, differentiated posts by advertisers that lead to advertiser pages on the site spelling out the deals and providing links, directions and contact information. There’s a good measure of social functionality: stories as well as ads allow “votes;” staff credits have social network-style photo icons (as do registered users); staff is jumping into some of the comment threads; content is richly tagged; registered users can start “conversations” and share content via a variety of social platforms.  The site has a clean, up-to-date design.  At first glance, photos are a bit sparse, but where you find them, both photos and videos have a nice large format.

There’s a  tutorial video that seems at points to almost assume the user needs an introduction to how Web sites works, but does point out the kinds of things that make the site different.

On Thursdays and Sundays, AnnArbor.com will deliver “the AnnArbor.com newspaper,” into which, presumably, are distilled the remaining print advertising and preprints from the former daily, packaged with news repurposed from the Web site. This is a formula I’ve espoused regularly. Many publishers, looking at the expense weight of seven-day print publishing and distribution, realize it may well be a more sustainable and viable model for the long term — but it’s also a big downsizing from the seven-day model and won’t deliver the kind of profit volume or margin they’ve enjoyed in the past. But then, business as usual is not likely to bring back the profits of yore, either. The Ann Arbor experiment will be watched carefully to see if it offers a way for newspapers to move more decisively toward becoming truly digital enterprises.

Footnote: oddly, [as of Friday, July 24] the former site of the Ann Arbor News carries extensive coverage of the closing of the daily, topped by a May 14 date. Less-than-obvious links to AnnArbor.com are way down the page. UPDATE, 7/26: As noted by Mary Ann Chick Whiteside (blog) in the first comment below, mlive.com has caught up with the closing and now offers a feed from AnnArbor.com under its Ann Arbor tab.  Follow her link to the Ann Arbor News’s coverage of its own demise.

POSTED     July 24, 2009, 5:45 p.m.
SHARE THIS STORY
   
Show comments  
Show tags
 
Join the 15,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
Los Angeles is the content future
“Creative content people are frustrated with the industry and creating their content on their own terms. Sound familiar?”
Reporters, designers, and developers become BFFs
“You’d be surprised at how many jokes in Slack have evolved into real stories or features on our sites.”
A thaw in the newsroom glacier
“20/20 is good as hindsight goes, but if 2020 is your target for major change, you are in deep trouble.”
What to read next
847
tweets
Here’s some remarkable new data on the power of chat apps like WhatsApp for sharing news stories
At least in certain contexts, WhatsApp is a truly major traffic driver — bigger even than Facebook. Should there be a WhatsApp button on your news site?
429What’s the right news experience on a phone? Stacy-Marie Ishmael and BuzzFeed are trying to figure it out
“Nobody has to read you. You have to earn that. You have to respect people’s attention.”
343Come work for Nieman Lab
We have an opening for a staff writer in our Cambridge newsroom.
These stories are our most popular on Twitter over the past 30 days.
See all our most recent pieces ➚
Encyclo is our encyclopedia of the future of news, chronicling the key players in journalism’s evolution.
Here are a few of the entries you’ll find in Encyclo.   Get the full Encyclo ➚
Knight Foundation
ABC News
Quora
Gawker Media
Fox News
Daily Mail
West Seattle Blog
DocumentCloud
EveryBlock
Detroit Free Press and Detroit News
Connecticut Mirror
ESPN