Washington Post – local and international

Caroline Little, ceo and publisher, Washington Post is now on stage. She says it’s 4.30am in the States so she apologies for being half asleep.

Her presentation is entitled “Hyperlocal and International”. It sounds like a contradiction, she says, but it is possible if you understand your audience well. Washingtonpost.com has two home pages, a local page and an international home page. The local site the highest local penetration – 40% – of any site in the US. In total between the two, there are 9 million unique visitors and 250 million page views a month.

“We didn’t know we had an international audience”, she says, but they realised that people were coming because they remembered the Washington Post from Watergate.

The local audience is served by a number of services – a mash-up using Google Maps and various local databases on crime, schools, home sales etc., for instance. In addition they have launched sites specifically relevant to local regions – Loudoun for instance. This is an experiment she says. Another county will follow.

News is important – we have a local blogger who lives in the community. We have a large website which allows us to feed traffic through to the local sites.

The global audience is a different story. Most people arrive by search engine and Caroline says they are working on the navigation “so that people can navigate more than with the back button”.

is using Pluck to add interactive tools (comments and feedback, for instance). Another thing she mentions is the inclusion of “topics pages” – basically landing pages hyperlinked from words on the page. There are about 300,000 and these are automatically generated and optimised for search (done through a partnership with Inform). Also have “most viewed article” and “share” through Facebook, etc.

What is next? Lots. “We are really far behind in mobile compared with Europeans and that’s an area we’re really pushing forward on”. They are also pushing forward with widgets – particularly Facebook. For example the political compass (which tells you what your politics are) got 300,000 downloads in the first month. There was an internal competition to come up with widgets which generated a lot of interest. Another example is the Issue Coverage Tracker.

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