Busy making things: tinycast, github, links, photos, @mc.

Clickable Bylines

Posted: February 18th, 2006 | Author: | Filed under: Django, Journalism, Python | 49 Comments »

Clickable bylines are the new black in online journalism according to this post and related comments at Poynter. I have to admit that I thought that this was the norm rather than the exception, since this had been the case at the Journal-World long before I arrived in Lawrence.

A few days ago Dan asked me how long it would take to whip up per-writer RSS feeds. Thanks to django’s syndication framework the answer was no time at all. Over the next couple of days and with the direction of Dan and David, we tweaked the feeds to include both per-writer and per-photographer feeds. David made it easy to set up search alerts for every time a staff member posted a story. We also updated the staff bio pages to make all of this information easier to get to.

Here is an example from a recent story by Joel Mathis:

in-story byline

If you click on Joel’s name, you’ll be taken to his bio page. If you click on Contact, you’ll be taken directly to his contact form. There’s nothing new there (for us anyway). The new stuff happens on the bio page:

Joel's bio page

The very top of every bio page contains more metainformation than you can shake a stick at. First and foremost is Joel’s number and contact form. After that we have an RSS feed of his latest stories. Following that is the search alert form that allows you to be notified every time Joel posts a story. Since Joel is such a converged guy and takes pictures too, you can check out the latest photos he has taken or subscribe to an RSS feed of those photos. You can also subscribe to that feed as a photocast in the latest iPhoto.

Joel’s bio page also also contains a short biography that makes me want to head up the street to Rudy’s every time I read it. Below the bio and mugshot is a list of recent stories by Joel and a form that lets you quickly search his stories.

I think these tools go well beyond what other news organizations are just beginning to do. At the same time there is always room for improvement, so don’t be suprised if more information is added to these pages.

49 Comments on “Clickable Bylines”

  1. 1 Gustaf Erikson said at 3:28 pm on February 18th, 2006:

    Wow, really cool. Journo’s here in .se’s biggest paper have email links, but I imagine that they go to a great big bit bucket somewhere in the cellar. No fscking way a working journalist has time to read random email from readers.

    An RSS feed by writer is pretty cool. Is it a full text feed, or just excerpts. Same with the pics, do you get a small thumbnail or a large version?

    Do you have feeds for different parts of the paper? Local news, sports etc?

  2. 2 Gustaf Erikson said at 3:29 pm on February 18th, 2006:

    BTW, email addy’s with ” ” signs in them *are* valid, no matter what WP thinks 😉

  3. 3 Gustaf Erikson said at 3:31 pm on February 18th, 2006:

    That’s a plus sign, by the way.


  4. 4 Matt Croydon said at 4:08 pm on February 18th, 2006:


    Every news section should have a corresponding RSS feed. For example http://www2.ljworld.com/news/lawrence/ has a feed at http://www2.ljworld.com/rss/headlines/lawrence/ (which is of course autodiscoverable on the news page). We also offer RSS feeds of our classifieds, blogs, podcasts, comments, and a bunch of other stuff.


  5. 5 Lars said at 3:09 am on February 21st, 2006:

    Hi Matt:

    That django syndication framework looks pretty slick!

    I’m really hoping you can drop me an e-mail sometime soon.. something’s cooking here you’ll wanna see.. 😎


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