The Scoop

A blog about what's new and changing on sacbee.com

March 29, 2010
The place for feedback on Sacramento Connect toolbar

So have you tried the toolbar with the bright orange icon, Twitter and Facebook icons at the bottom of your browser yet? What do you think?

 

This toolbar represents a network of content-linking partners we are calling Sacramento Connect, and it will make finding and sharing related content from sacbee.com and other handpicked blogs and sites in the region easier than ever. What do you think of the network and some of the content partners? What has been your experience with the toolbar so far? Please leave a comment or email me. We do plan to continually improve the toolbar and grow the number of partners.

 

Please let us know about any problems so we can keep making things better for you.

 

Have you seen the landing page for Sacramento Connect on sacbee.com yet? Click here. Any suggestions on how we might improve that page?

March 28, 2010
Sacramento Connect embraces how online readers behave

Sacramento Connect, a social media and linking network, combines a number of things sacbee.com has been trying to do: aggregating content, linking, pushing social media and sharing of content. So when I first heard the idea for Sacramento Connect from Sean McMahon, The Bee's digital product development manager, I was less than excited.

 

What's new about linking, or inviting independent blogs to be part of your site? We were already doing some things with Facebook and Twitter.  

 

Sacramento Connect is simply about making all those things easier, and combining several powerful web tools into one toolbar. In a word: simplicity. It's about going with the flow of how online news readers behave, acknowledging the web's fragmentation of audience and seeing opportunities instead of problems. At least that is what McMahon described to me, and that made me a skeptic. Sounds good, but what does that really mean?

 

I remained a skeptic until I saw the toolbar that McMahon and a talented crew of Bee web developers help customized to make it easier to find related content on sacbee.com and a handpicked network of quality bloggers and news sites. The first time I saw tested the toolbar, and saw how it made it easier to search for content and share it via email, Twitter and Facebook, I marveled at both the power and simplicity of the toolbar.

 

Now it's your turn. Test out the toolbar Monday and let us know what you think. What other favorite blogs or sites would you like to see added to Sacramento Connect? Any thing not making sense about the toolbar or how to use it, please let us know. We do expect some bugs in this early phase of Sacramento Connect, but hopefully you'll agree the toolbar is both simple and powerful.

March 27, 2010
Each click on Sacramento Connect helps us improve

We are two days away from debuting Sacramento Connect and we cannot wait to see how readers start using a toolbar that was designed to make it easier to find and share content on sacbee.com and a network of blogs and sites picked by Bee editors. We are calling the network Sacramento Connect.

 

The toolbar has built into it tools to measure how users are interacting with it, where they are coming from before they use the toolbar and where they went afterward, as well as how much they are using Facebook, Twitter and email via the toolbar. We won't be spying on individual users - the technology is not set up that way - but rather looking at traffic patterns to better understand how to make the toolbar work better for all users.  

 

We'll share what we see with our content-linking partners, so they can better understand what their readers are looking for when they come to their site or blog. We'll hope to learn more about the kind of content readers are looking for, and if we don't produce it at sacbee.com or have a  current linking partner that does, we'll look for a blog or site that does and invite them into the network. Each click will become a vote for action by readers.

 

On Sunday, I'll share my own journey from skeptic to strong supporter of Sacramento Connect.

March 26, 2010
March 26, 2010
Sacramento Connect toolbar will make it easier to share news

When you find a story that makes you laugh or angry, don't you want to share and discuss it with someone you know who might react the same way you did?

We love it when sacbee.com readers share links. It means the story resonated with readers, and it's good for business when readers want to promote your work to other readers. While some websites make it easier than others to share content, we've felt sacbee.com had lots to improve on in that area.

Starting Monday, The Bee will make sharing links easier than ever with a toolbar that will appear on each page of sacbee.com and a network of blogs and sites we are calling Sacramento Connect. Each blog and site in the network will be selected by Bee editors for its consistent quality of content. The toolbar will allow users to easily connect to Facebook, Twitter and email, and share content with a simple click and drag. If you are so inclined, you can then use the powerful search engines built into the toolbar to find more related and relevant content across the network via the toolbar.

On Saturday, we'll talk about how Sacramento Connect will help us learn more about our readers with each click on the toolbar.

March 25, 2010
Sacramento Connect partners to be featured on sacbee

Sacramento Connect, the social media and linking network that debuts Monday on sacbee.com and on other blogs and sites in the region, uses a toolbar powered by Meebo, Yahoo and Lingospot through customization by Bee web developers. The toolbar will help readers search for and find related content across the Sacramento Connect network and easily share it through Facebook, Twitter and email. The Bee intends to continually expand and update its list of handpicked content-linking partners, thus enriching readers experience in easily finding related, quality content.

 

While the toolbar is sort of the glue that holds the network together, it is only one part of Sacramento Connect. On sacbee.com you may have already seen some of our topic pages powered by Lingospot, such as our pages on Arnold Schwarzenegger, Arco Arena or Health Care. Some of these pages are self-generated through Lingospot's aggregation of related content from sacbee.com, other news sites, blogs and Twitter. The pages are generated based on what sacbee.com readers are clicking. If enough readers click a certain story, Lingospot launches a topic page based on that interest. Bee editors can also launch topic pages in anticipation of events or news, such as our recent Winter Olympics page that pulled in RSS feeds from news sites, blogs from local athletes competing in Vancouver, tweets from Olympic athletes and coaches, etc.

 

So when readers click content from Sacramento Connect they will also be helping launch more topic pages on sacbee.com. Bee editors will also look to create some topic pages that showcase Sacramento Connect content.

 

We will also have a landing page on sacbee.com for Sacramento Connect. The page will feature content from Sacramento Connect that is generating the most clicks from readers that day, the most recent posts, and featured content from Bee editors looking for content they find newsy or interesting. As Bee editors find newsy or interesting content across the network, they will also be tweeting links and posting links on Facebook.

 

On Friday, we'll discuss how the toolbar will make it easier to find the content you want.

March 24, 2010
A link to join Sacramento Connect, get your own toolbar

toolbar-stories.jpgSacramento Connect, a social media and linking network that uses the latest web technologies combined with Bee editing decisions, debuts Monday on sacbee.com and on other blogs and sites in the region. Click the screen grab to the right to view the toolbar that will be the glue that holds the network together. In this screen grab we show you what happens when you are reading a story and click the stories button: a small window offers you a list of related stories from the network, with a link to more related stories.

 

Each page of sacbee.com and our content-linking partners in Sacramento Connect will have the same toolbar.

 

Sacbee.com readers can start testing the toolbar on Monday. Please let us know what you think, and how we might improve Sacramento Connect and the toolbar.

 

Until then, check out a similar toolbar at the bottom of this site.

 

The Bee's motivation for creating this network is to attract additional readers drawn by the ease in finding related, quality content and the ability to share it through Facebook, Twitter and email via the toolbar. We intend to monetize the increased traffic, and are offering the same potential to Sacramento Connect partners. The Bee will also offer a mobile version of Sacramento Connect, with Bee web developers doing most of the work for partners that don't have mobile offerings.

 

There is no cost to join the network, and partners retain all rights to their content. The Bee simply gives each partner a line of javascript to allow the toolbar to appear on his/her blog or site. Partners don't need to do anything else except keep producing quality content. The Bee is interested in blogs or sites that regularly post, are transparent about sourcing and who is behind blog posts or site content. We are looking for blogs and sites that produce content on topics like state politics and commentary; state environmental issues; community news, issues and commentary in the Sacramento region; entertainment and things to do in Northern California; and other topics that are well reported and written that would appeal to Sacramento readers.

 

If you have a blog or site and would like to join the network, click here to apply. It will take about five workings days before you learn if your application has been approved, and for this first phase as we work out any bugs we won't be launching new partners on Sacramento Connect for about a month. We do intend to slowly grow the list of partners and improve how Sacramento Connect works.

 

Thursday, we'll discuss what Bee editors will be doing to highlight content from Sacramento Connect partners.  

 

 

March 23, 2010
Connecting the best blogs and sites with one toolbar

There is a blog born every half second, according Technorati, the internet search engine that tracks blogs. Sure, most of them don't stay active very long but search the web and you can find a blog on any topic written by experts, novices and others who just make you wonder, "What were they thinking when they created that blog?"

 

At sacbee.com, we recently started checking the region and the state for interesting blogs and independent news sites that might be of interest to Sacramento readers. We came up with a list of 400 blogs and sites we thought offered consistently interesting content.

 

We then took a look at what topics and stories seem to be of interest to most of sacbee.com readers as well as some recent studies on what topics online news readers say they are most interested in reading. With this information, Bee editors narrowed our list to about 200 blogs and sites and reached out to about 25 to start talking about a new linking and social media network we are calling Sacramento Connect. The network will debut on sacbee.com and a couple dozen partner blogs and sites on March 29. We hope to slowly grow the network over time, screening and inviting other quality bloggers and sites into Sacramento Connect.

 

Some of the blogs on our list are already well-known to Bee editors and readers, such as Sac Foodies and others that we already link to from Bee staff blogs. Others, such as Jeff Pelline's Sierra Foothills Report, we sought out after tracking the blog for a month. Pelline is a former San Francisco Chronicle reporter and editor and a founding editor of CNET, which provides tech product reviews. As we started paying attention to Pelline's blog, we noticed he was on top of news in the foothills. We certainly took notice when he scooped The Bee a couple times on stories. One of Jeff's scoops: he got the official route for the 2010 Amgen Tour of California a day before sacbee.com and two days before the story was printed in The Bee. Our only consolation was that Jeff also scooped all California newspapers and other local media outlets.

 

Another blog we found intriguing was Girls on the Grid, which describes itself as a "lifestyle blog focused on the daily lives of professional women in Sacramento." The blog is run by a group of women who work in state government, for PR firms and nonprofits. The idea for the blog, according to several of the bloggers, was born over happy hour and became a way for the women to unleash some creative writing talent and connect with other women sharing the same interests. Both Girls on the Grid and Pelline are announcing today that they are a part of Sacramento Connect. Thanks for joining!

 

Sacramento Connect will tie blogs like Pelline's and Girls on the Grid with dozens of others. Some of the blogs are completely unrelated, but we think all offer insight and are well executed. Using a toolbar that will appear on each page of these blogs and on sacbee.com, when you find any story that interests you the toolbar will guide you to related content across the Sacramento Connect network. We didn't weed through the 133 million plus blogs Technorati has indexed, but we do think Sacramento Connect will save readers a lot of time in finding the best content on topics that most interest them.  

 

Tomorrow, we'll share how you can apply to have your own blog or site join Sacramento Connect.

March 22, 2010
Sacramento Connect: More content, easier to find, share

When you visit sacbee.com or a couple dozen other sites and blogs in the Sacramento region next week you'll see a toolbar across the bottom of your screen with the Facebook and Twitter icons on it. Also integrated into the toolbar are a Yahoo search engine and an aggregator called LingoSpot, which will list related content based on what you are currently clicking.

 

Both the search engine and aggregator will focus on finding content from sacbee.com and a network of blogs and sites handpicked by Bee editors for their consistent quality. Some of the sites and blogs have been around the region for awhile and have a good number of followers. Others are just starting up or yet to attract much of a following. We think all are compelling for the timely news they provide or the interesting views they express on topics and news.  

 

The toolbar will appear across every page of sacbee.com as well as partner sites and blogs. Whenever you click a page, story, photo or video, the toolbar will display any related content from across a network of content-linking partners we are calling Sacramento Connect. Find any content on Sacramento Connect you want to share, you can sign on to your Facebook or Twitter accounts via the toolbar, and then you can grab any headline, text, photo or video and drag it over to the Facebook, Twitter or email icon and drop it there to add the link and send it out. Explained in a simpler way, by Sean McMahon, The Bee's digital product development manager and the person who has led The Bee on developing this toolbar, we are just trying to make it easier to do all the things online readers are already doing: searching for content they are interested in and sharing it through social media.

 

Sacramento Connect will launch March 29, and over the next seven days we'll tell you more about the network, including about some of the people, vendors and stories behind the network as well as share some of our plans for the network: a mobile version and dozen more quality and unique blogs and sites in the coming months. On Tuesday, some of our initial blog partners will be making their own announcements about joining Sacramento Connect, and explain what the network means to them. I'll say more about some of those partners Tuesday, but they and you the reader are what Sacramento Connect is really about. The technology just makes it easier to connect you to some interesting and useful content about communities in our region, things to do in Northern California, and a favorite of many Bee readers, keeping up with state politics and political commentary.

 

March 2, 2010
Sacbee.com makes site search improvements

We're pleased to announce some improvements to the site search for sacbee.com (click here to see the new & improved version.)

The most notable change is that "news results" are now displayed more prominently. Other search categories are now listed vertically down the left-hand side of the page. A section-specific search result is located at the top of the right column.

The vast majority of users employ the site search function to locate news stories, so our goal is to make those results even easier to access, while still providing for searches for other areas of our site (such as advertorial sections, archives, Guide to The Bee, etc.)

It's worth noting is the job is not complete, but just one step in our on-going efforts to improve the online experience for sacbee.com readers. As we launch this site search enhancement, we are already working with our corporate technology arm and vendors to find other ways to extend, improve and elevate the site search experience on our site. So stay tuned for more enhancements to come.



About The Scoop

The Scoop is a blog where the managers of sacbee.com talk about new initiatives and our plans for sacbee.com. You can reach us by at the e-mail addresses below or you can comment on our postings.

Tom Negrete is managing editor of The Bee and oversees the daily work of journalists who produce news content for the newspaper and sacbee.com. Negrete, who has been at The Bee since 1994, has served as assistant managing editor for business and sports, sports editor and assistant city editor. E-mail him at tnegrete@sacbee.com or reach him at (916) 321-1171.

Seán McMahon is The Bee's Director of Digital Media, overseeing the interactive efforts of the company. His e-mail is smcmahon@sacbee.com.

Linda Gonzales is digital team leader for Sacbee.com and has been an editor at The Bee since 1995. You can email her at lgonzales@sacbee.com.

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