The Center for Investigative Reporting
Against a swirl of ever-shortening media formats and frenetic reposting of news stories, at least one journalism organization is working against the tide. The Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR), the nation’s oldest and largest nonprofit investigative reporting organization, works to arm the public with deeply-reported stories on a broad range of complex issues. Since it was founded in 1977, CIR has provided local, national, and international reporting with a focus on multimedia stories that support civic and and corporate accountability.
We worked with the Center for Investigative Reporting to identify the audience for cironline.org, to create an effective strategy for engaging their users, and to build a suite of features that allow CIR to publish content in rich, meaningful formats.
A More Demanding News Consumer
Through early discovery meetings with the CIR team, it became clear that their readers expect more than the average web user. CIR readers require in-depth stories on challenging subjects – stories that assist in forming opinions, that help the public hold governments and corporations accountable for their actions, and that raise awareness on important social issues. CIR readers are as concerned with topics as they are with breaking stories. Unlike much of the mainstream web audience, they spend time consuming news and seek rich, comprehensive multimedia content focused on the issues they care about.
Designing for the Audience
We worked with CIR to define functionality that matched their users’ needs and expectations. While breaking news remained important, the ability for readers to browse by topic, to explore issues deeply across multiple stories, and to consume long-form multimedia were critical.
Improved Browsing, Better Metadata
Chronological content streams that list stories in descending order by date are typical fare for media websites, and CIR was no exception. In addition, we integrated AJAX-driven search tools that allow users to browse content by topic, media, and length directly into the primary content stream, providing a means for users to quickly drill down to the types of content that interest them. Driving this is a better, more organized approach to metadata, enforcing a flexible consistency that vastly improves content discovery and exploration.
An extension of the need for more sophisticated content exploration, project pages serve as a hub for a wide range of distinct topics. Each project page provides visual distinction – custom photography and color choices – allowing editors to tailor both the design and content of projects to their respective subjects. Projects span multiple stories and multiple formats, providing multi-faceted perspectives on the issues CIR readers care about.
Multiple media formats
CIR produces content across several formats, including articles, data visualizations, photography, audio, and video. The new cironline.org brings focus to this wide range of formats, allowing users to browse by form in addition to topic. For long-form video content, we integrated with Ooyala and built tools for remembering a registered user’s position within a particular video – across multiple devices.
An All-Around More Sophisticated Experience
Beyond features for better content exploration and multimedia, the redesign for cironline.org included a broad range of improvements including options to “read this later”, tools for sharing content via social media, and a responsive design that adapts to the size and capabilites of multiple devices. The design features striking colors and bold typography, providing a compelling visual experience to match its content.
CIR is a support client, and we continue to work with the CIR team to improve both the publishing process as well as the experience for end users.