Web Sitings: The Online Flavor of The Week
Readers also frequently use tags under each story to share TheWeek.com’s content on Digg.com, Delicious.com and other social news sites. “Just like we take it upon ourselves to survey what’s out on the Web and direct our readers to what we think deserves their attention, fortunately other people are doing the same with us and suggesting that people come visit [our] site,” Wilkinson says. Commenting is another popular feature on the site, allowing readers to further engage with the content.
Promoting Original Content Online
The online feature that most distinguishes TheWeek.com from the print edition is the “Bullpen” of weekly columnists who generate original content. The print edition may be full of editors’ opinions, but there are no bylines. Since he was brought on in August, Wilkinson has built up the original online content and acquired new writers like David Frum and Robert Shrum, who draw big numbers, posting weekly columns from opposite ends of the political spectrum. “In addition to having rhyming names,” Wilkinson jokes, “they were both speech writers; Frum was a George W. Bush speech writer in the White House, and Shrum wrote speeches for years as a Democratic consultant and wrote some of Ted Kennedy’s speeches.”
Judging by the number of incoming links, Wilkinson says columnists are usually the most heavily trafficked items on the site. “When we really see a spike, it’s often because we’ve got a provocative column up,” he says. All of the current print stories are online as well, but to protect the value of the print subscription, several articles, indicated by a key icon, are available to subscribers only through a log-in.
Building Fun and Interactive Features
Adding to the meme of interactive editorial features across the Web, like the prevalent “word cloud” (a visual depiction of word “tags” describing a site’s content), TheWeek.com recently launched its own feature combining information graphics and editorial content. The Week Index is a bar graph illustrating the top four news stories of the week and the number of times each story has been written about in 35 of the top columns and editorial pages in U.S. media. Corresponding to each story is a navigable tab with outbound links to all of the listed coverage on each subject. A fifth story links to more cultural commentary from sources such as Rolling Stone, People and Slate.