Jason Oberfest – Los Angeles Times

Posted on 05. Oct, 2007 by in Big Media, Social Networking

Your work in networked/citizen/collaborative journalism.We have two social media pilot projects underway.

The first pilot is a new local activity and events directory website for Los Angeles that fuses user submitted content, LA Times-appointed guide content, and LA Times newspaper content to neighborhood directories. It’s similar in some ways to Citysearch, though it was built for L.A. from the beginning and it will include a great deal more editorial content and more social features. The beta version of this site will be launching in December.

The second pilot is a new entertainment industry news section of latimes.com that integrates LA Times content, user-generated content, and third party web content submitted by users. Content items are presented in an integrated display and are prioritized based on recency of the post, total number of user votes, and total number of user comments.

At the heart of both products is a user reputation system that is designed to help the reader qualify content submitted by site users and LA Times staff alike to make a judgment about which content on the site to put stock in.

What are your goals?

Based on additional user testing of the new designs, our goal is to deploy the concepts that resonate well with consumers across the broader latimes.com website.

Notable achievements?

We launched a very modest pilot project in our travel section to begin experimenting with the directory product concept. Only about 75% of the functionality has been built for that section, but already we are seeing page views up 300% over the previous section design.

Lesson you’ve learned (including mistakes you’ve made)

It is very difficult to launch a new front end of a site and a new underlying CMS at the same time.

Are you getting revenue for this? How?

Since we launched the travel pilot we have seen national advertising dollars in the section turn from a year over year decline of 26% to a 156% year over year increase.

What’s next? What do you need to get to the next level?

We need to ramp up our new Ruby on Rails tech infrastructure to allow us to launch product iterations more smoothly and A/B test more effectively.

Anyone you’d like to talk with, learn from, or work with at the summit 

It looks like you have created a fantastic list of attendees– I am excited to speak with everyone on the list.


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