L’Internazionale is rightfully proud of its very dedicated readership. Out of 100’000 readers, 30’000 come to Ferrara each year to meet the editors. The facebook group of Internazionale boasts 23’000 fans, a huge number if you compare it to the groups of Newsweek with a circulation of over 3 Million and only 13’000 fans, or the one of the Time Magazine circulating over 5 Million and having 60’000 fans. This definitely calls for a web page with high user participation, way beyond the “articles and comments” setup you see on many magazine websites.
Over time, iA has had the chance to launch and operate quite a number of high participation news pages. Obviously, too much interactivity or too tight an integration between editorial and user content can work against the quality standard of an established journalistic product. Even if most users of such a site interact meaningfully with it, there’s always the odd percent that can really foul things up. Established publications—don’t forget that Internazionale is one of a few islands in Berlusconi-dominated Italy—are a very attractive target to trolling and self declared advocates of “the user”.
Finding the Sweet Spot in Interactivity
So what is the sweet spot in interactivity of a site with a very dedicated readership, how do we make the site deeply interactive but keep in check the dangers associated with such an approach? We think by:
Opening the interactive part to subscribers only, but showing its results publicly. Internazionale’s readers should be numerous and dedicated enough to bring such a community to live, maybe not at a high frequency, but on a high quality level. There are quite some advantages to this approach: the subscriber number and its associated real-life ID is a good handle to keep troublemakers in check and additional value is offered to subscribers only, the people that actually finance Internazionale.
Assigning different, but equally powerful roles to both users and editors on the site. Users are responsible for discovery, the “upcoming news” and editors for the refinement and top-level agenda setting.
Making the difference between users and editors obvious by design. The editors get to keep the “high ground” on the site – after all, they are the ones that are running this joint. The site should state: this is what the editors of Internazionale have chosen for you. If you don’t have much time, you can read this an be confident that you got the most important stuff. If you have more time and are open to discovery however, take a look at what the users are proposing, what is best in their eyes and could make it to the editorial part and ultimately even into the magazine. If you want to become a subscriber and ultimately maybe even influence the product you subscribed to, please fill in this form.
This is how such an approach would look. Please click on the wireframes to get a full view.