Archant website geo-tagging will provide personalised local news

Regional newspaper group Archant is overhauling its network of news sites to allow readers to see a front page personalised to a radius around their location.

Archant is currently preparing the specification for a relaunch of its regional newspaper sites, which are expected to debut on the Norwich Evening News site in August or September.

One major feature will be an emphasis on mapping and tagging stories with geographical information.

Journalists will record the locations referred to in each story and add their postcodes as metadata when uploading their copy to the web.

Geotagging will allow users who register with their postcodes to prioritise the news they see online according to its proximity to their homes, offices or other important locations in their lives.

The approach marks a break from creating news websites based solely on newspapers’ print distribution areas.

“People live their lives in the localities that they define, not in the ones that we define,” said Archant development director Ian Davies.

Adding geographical metadata to online reporting, Davies said, will also allow new types of stories to emerge.

For example, plotting stories on a map will make it possible for the newsroom to refer back to all the crimes that have been reported on one particular street or identify trouble spots.

“There are some very clever things you can do once you start capturing the data — the problem, of course, is that historically, we haven’t really captured the geographic data effectively.”

Local listings will also be geotagged to provide new functionality for readers.

“It seems like an obvious thing to do, because it adds a lot of value when you come to making a website seem more friendly, helpful and useful,” said Davies.

“Surely you should be able to see where those events are and to be able to get travel details — without forcing you to go into Google Maps to separately put in the details and try to find it out.”

By adding geotagging features to editorial content, Archant may also be able to offer greater contextual geographical targeting to local classified or display advertisers.

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