The long, long election season is finally behind us, shell ice is forming each night on standing water, and the opening salvos of the holiday advertising season are everywhere–it’s time to think about what’s next, what we hope to get done before we run through 2013 like grease through a goose. To borrow one election catch-phrase I omitted from last week’s post, it’s time to “pivot” away from the day-to-day details of feeding the beast, and to look for that sweet spot where our online capabilities match our mission, and match the wants and needs of our audience.
Oddly enough, this leads me to think not of news, the perennial mainstay of NCPR’s web operation, but of arts and entertainment. This year, I think NCPR finally made the leap to a broadly-based news operation online, where the stories available from our own sources, and those available from our network partner NPR, finally achieved the kind of parity they enjoy on the broadcast side. This has given us a huge bump in attention by visitors.
But the same cannot be said for our presentation of arts and entertainment, and the short shrift given those features on the site reflects that, too. We have some successes, like our crowd-sourced Photo of the Day feature, and we are diligent in presenting local gallery exhibits, previewing performances, keeping up with the local arts scene, and so forth. And we are beginning to get better use of NPR arts features, like Tiny Desk Concerts, the Picture Show blog, First Listen, and live festival coverage. But it all seems a little disjointed, hard to parse out from the rest of the news. So my feeling is that we are super-serving the news audience, and under-serving the arts and entertainment audience, particularly when compared to broadcast.
We have talked this issue out a lot, in-house, over the last few years, and are arriving at consensus around the idea of portals, giving different types of audience a more customized slice of all that we have on offer. One “home” for news junkies, and a different landing zone for folks looking to follow their passions for things other than current events–one rich in art, and music, food, life and humor. Not totally separate silos, but ones that put the emphasis more in line with whatever experience you are looking for.
This may be a terrible idea, and if so, we are interested to hear why you think so. But we also want to hear from people who don’t necessarily come to public radio for the news magazines and the first half of The Eight O’clock Hour and the news talk–rather for the music, the storytelling, the book talk, cooking and gardening. In particular, we want specific recommendations about your favorite programs and other features, both local and national, so we can begin to map out a better strategy to serve your interests, and bring to the “top” of the site whatever you most want to see, hear and talk about. Please add your own take in a comment below.