GlobalPost field trip

On Wednesday afternoon, our Reinventing the News class took a trip to the North End, where we visited the GlobalPost headquarters. Although it is based out of Boston, GlobalPost is a website dedicated entirely to international news. Once there, we met with Charles Sennott, executive editor of the site, and Rick Byrne, director of communications and marketing. They spent some time speaking with us about the site and some of its recent content.

Charles Sennott, speaking to our class at the GlobalPost headquarters in Boston

According to Sennott, the site has more than 70 correspondents in 50 countries around the world, in addition to a full time staff of 15 people in Boston, including 8 editors. The site makes money through online advertising, syndication and its subscription model, entitled “Passport“.

Overall, GlobalPost is an incredibly well put together site for international news. It is well organized, with drop down menus located at the top of the screen that list all of the countries and beats which the site covers. Further down, five boxes feature the biggest stories of the day. Other, more general sections such as “Women in Politics” and “Global Headlines” are listed below, followed by a multimedia section and a list of ongoing GlobalPost blogs.

To be honest, I hadn’t read the GlobalPost site until just before our trip to their offices on Wednesday. I am impressed with the selection of content throughout the site, and have already bookmarked the site with intentions of visiting it on a regular basis. The layout of the main site isn’t my favorite – I don’t necessarily like how all of the content is stacked one item on top of another. The international news that I read comes mostly from the New York Times or LA Times, and occasionally The Jerusalem Post, and in comparison to the NYT or LAT, I love the more in depth coverage GlobalPost provides.

During his presentation, Sennott highlighted a multimedia piece he worked on entitled “Life, death and the Taliban”. The piece, which features written articles, photo essays and video, is incredibly detailed and has dozens of different parts. Overall, I am impressed with the depth of reporting throughout the piece. The videos are well narrated, the photos are beautiful and the content well written.

I began by reading the “Blowback” piece, but the layout confused me a bit. The integration of the video is a good concept, but is choppy within the text. The additional bar with content options only a few paragraphs into the story is also confusing, and somewhat distracting. I do appreciate the quotes from people within the country – after reading dozens of articles about the complex situation of the Middle East, it’s refreshing to read an article that quotes a people from inside the effected area.

The home page of the article features a timeline of the Taliban, which I found incredibly informal. I like that you can click on different years and read about what happened at that point in time. I do wish that the timeline opened on its own, bigger page, where the text could be bigger and more in depth.

GlobalPost also has a Study Abroad page, which features content produced by college students studying abroad. My professor has asked us to come up with three story ideas for the page, and here are mine:

– If I were to write for this page, I’d love to do a feature on a typical weekend – comparing and contrasting how I would have spent my weekend in the states versus how I spent it abroad. The story could be mainly text, but also feature a media component with a voiceover and photos.

– I traveled to China two summers ago, and we had a lot of fun pointing out interesting signs throughout the country, many of which were translated incorrectly. A photo slideshow featuring some of these signs from across the world might be a fun, light feature for the page.

– On the same trip to China, I was lucky enough to interact with some local Chinese university students. Another great story might be a profile on a university student in another country – asking them questions about everything from their studies to their goals for the future. The piece would be text, in addition to some photos of the student’s daily life at school.

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March 14, 2010. Tags: , , . Class Posts.

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