Even though the web has become a trusted source for news, the readers who seek out this information are not getting a fair shake. Despite the fact that you can find them posted on sites at every corner of the web, most static articles fail to embody the spirit captured by traditional newsworthy stories. While Twitter is one of the latest greatest news breaking outlets, it still cannot provide true context and deep analysis. There is no content service to act as the bridge needed to bring strong editorial reporting, comprehensive archiving, and real-time news delivery together in one platform. That is, up until a few months ago when Google formed a partnership with The New York Times and The Washington Post on a new experimental project known as Living Stories, a revolutionary content model that aims to supply the missing link.
When Living Stories went live in December 2009, the project focused on topics such as the Afghanistan War, healthcare reform, and other stories you would generally find in a newspaper these days. In the beginning, it aimed to leverage the benefits of online publishing by providing unified coverage of a topic on the same dynamic web page with a consistent web address. So basically, readers can pick up a topic, and follow it as the story progresses on a web page with the same URL, making it easy to keep up with the material. While the potential was evident from the jump, the early impression of Living Stories could be described as dull at best. However, that was only the beginning and from the looks of it, Google’s new content platform has much more in store.
In February 2010, Google announced that Living Stories would be an open source project, making the source code freely available to developers. This adds much excitement to the experiment and gives organizations an opportunity to see just how much potential it really has. Of course, Living Stories aims to optimize the reader experience and give a boost to the ailing print newspaper industry, but here are three ways small businesses heavy into content development and distribution can immediately take advantage:
1. Many online businesses use topic pages to enhance their SEO efforts. If this is something your organization is doing, take a look at your analytics to find out which topics are generating the most traffic. Next, develop Living Stories based on each topic and publicize them to the best of your ability.
2. If you have a development team onboard, produce in-house tools that allow writers and editors to create new stories in a snap. By doing this, your business can get a topic out there fast, and expand on it as continuous coverage is provided.
3. Think outside the box. It is very possible that Living Stories will evolve into a social networking tool or even a service that helps target local events. Stay on top of its developments and execute your strategy accordingly.
What gives Living Stories such great potential is the fact that the project is not restricted to news stories. For example, an author could use it as a portal to promote their books, or a publisher could use it as an ezine. In essence, it is another web-based publishing platform that can be leveraged however you see fit.