The Seattle Times News Partner Network got a nice little mention in Ken Doctor's Nieman Lab piece about 11 reasons to be optimistic about the news business. He writes as reason No. 7:
This movement is now several years old, and in its most worthwhile forms, is beginning to form both new identities and new revenue streams for newspapers. Take The Seattle Times, which has expanded an experiment that started with five regional blogs, produced by non-staffers, and built it into a 50-blog News Partner Network. The Times pays the bloggers with recognition and traffic, currently sending about 115,000 clicks a month to partners, says Times executive editor David Boardman. The benefits to the Times are both tangible and intangible.
“Recently, we created an ‘Around the Sound’ page in our Sunday newspaper that features neighborhood content provided by the blog partners. That’s low-cost, quality content we would not have otherwise,” says Boardman. “We have made consistent use of the network partners for both news tips and for reporting stories. And it works both ways, with us providing tips and reporting and photography to them.”
Then there’s the community warmth factor, as J-Lab’s survey has found a surprising 80 percent of the local population showing appreciation of the notion.
So, I think it's a good opportunity to capture how we actual create those various products generated from our partner content. Below are images that show how the partner headlines appear on our homepage and in our Sunday print section:
My contribution to this ongoing project is a tool that allows print and web editors to select partner headlines for both platforms. Right now we're calling it the "Partner Curation Tool" -- a name that I hate, open to suggestions -- and it's basically a hacked WordPress install. Screenshot below:
It's a pretty janky setup, but it works like this: Using the FeedWordPress plugin, all partner feeds are ingested into the blog. There's a front-end interface for assigning a category to those ingested posts (assigning to either the web or print or both, with the ability to filter items by news partner or curation type). This generates a feed that we can pull into various CMSes.
Prior to this tool, we were copying and pasting headlines and links from Google Reader. It's not pretty, but it gets the job done and it only took a few hours to make.