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Saturday, Feb 4, 2023

Papers Preparing Web Innovations

The Los Angeles Newspaper Group, publisher of the Daily News of Los Angeles, the Long Beach Press Telegram and papers in the San Gabriel Valley and Inland Empire, plans a redesign of its Web sites, including Web logs and reader-produced journalism.

John Hoeft, vice president of interactive media for the newspaper cluster owned by MediaNews Group, said many of the pending changes have been tested by the company’s flagship, The Denver Post, and by the company’s local entertainment Web site, la.com. Others have not.

“We’re just going to stick our toes in the water and experiment a little,” Hoeft said.

The Denver Post is a partner in YourHub.com, a site that allows readers throughout metropolitan Denver to submit stories and photographs from their communities. Selected stories from the Web site are published in special sections delivered with the print edition of the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News, which are partners in a joint operating agreement.

LANG executives are discussing different approaches to incorporating “citizen journalism” across the group’s sprawling territory, which stretches from Ventura County to the Mojave Desert. No decision has been made on whether to replicate the YourHub model or take a different approach, Hoeft said. LANG could begin experimenting with citizen journalism by late this year.

LANG is moving quicker on Web logs, commonly known as blogs and an increasingly ubiquitous feature of the online world. The Los Angeles Times also has experimented with blogs, notably during the recent Los Angeles mayoral race. LANG’s la.com Web site runs a gossipy blog called LA.Comfidential, one of the site’s most popular features.

The Daily News is expected to introduce at least one blog in the next three months that Hoeft said will likely focus on local politics. Other blogs could come later, including some affiliated with other LANG newspaper sites or separate from the newspapers.

The newspaper Web sites themselves also are due for their first makeover in years. Hoeft said LANG is testing a new Web publishing system that will allow it to revamp the sites over the next three months, cutting down on clutter for a more contemporary look.

The Times revamped its own Web site in May making it easier to navigate and read. But one thing the Daily News will not attempt is the Times’ much-ballyhooed experiment with “wikitorials” online editorials that allowed readers to add their own opinions. The Times shut down the wikitorials within 24 hours in June after users flooded the site with obscene words and images.

“We watched and learned,” Hoeft said.

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