Wes Lindamood and NPR’s Project Argo

“It is our pleasure to serve you,” at least that’s what the New York deli coffee cup said in NPR Web developer Wes Lindamood’s presentation to our Jour 352 class on Monday in Knight Hall.

This is a screen grab of the Ecotrope blog by Oregon Public Broadcasting.

But the NPR member station blog network isn’t serving up a steaming cuppa joe, it’s serving up locally sourced insight in topics that affect people around the country. From Boston’s CommonHealth to San Francisco’s MindShift, Project Argo has you covered with daily information that helps readers live their lives. 

Lindamood took us on a tour of how WordPress is used for the guts of each blog site and how NPR used a layer of customization to create the look and feel each site’s blogger wanted.

In the comment section below, tell me some things about the Project Argo site you’ve been assigned and how well it takes advantage of the tools Wes talked about in class. Post by Wednesday at noon.

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I'm a sports writer, editor, adjunct professor, mystery book lover, Cleveland native and a softball player. More about me can be found at www.danfriedell.com
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9 Responses to Wes Lindamood and NPR’s Project Argo

  1. evelynroyer says:

    One of project Argo’s blog spawn is the niche site called Mind Shift, a national beat covering the latest in education trends and affiliated with the local station KQED in Northern California. Blogger Tina Barseghian tells stories of eighth-grade algebra students who get iPads in lieu of textbooks, curriculum tailored around Lady Gaga and Manga, and how xBox gaming helps kids hone reading and writing skills.

    The WordPress ability to categorize pages in parent-child order keeps the site clean and easy to navigate. Feature stories sit in prominent boxes on top and lists of links from other Argo blogs run down the side. The categories along the menu bar, tight titles that expand into sub-categories, house related topics and latest posts. A cool feature of the Argo blogs is how connected they are, with a nest of links and instant updates that tie all these tightly focused blogs into one national news aggregate.

    Thanks to django, the site allows blog followers to Tweet, email, Facebook share, or follow stories via the blog’s RSS feed. The only thing that’s missing: a spell check program. There is evidence Argo’s 12 staffs-of-one would benefit from some copy-editing code while writing, posting, optimizing, curating, and managing their sites late into the night.

  2. Benny Magno says:

    NPR’s Project ARGO connects readers to their local news. But unlike typical news sites like CNN and FOX whose posts encompass international, national, and local news these ARGO sites appear more blog-like. They are further tailored to specific interests such as technology (http://mindshift.kqed.org/) and politics (http://empire.wnyc.org/). While these sites focus on the local, they also relate to news on a national scale.

    The sites are hosted on WordPress template, thus giving readers more unique options to tour the site. Some widgets pull in directly related information from other sites on the web right to the web page, saving both time and clicks. Tabs, tags, and drop-down menus also allow easy site navigation to articles readers are looking for. Efficiency and and an easy user interface will no doubt keep readers checking back for more.

    One of these dynamic sites is called Climatide (found here, http://climatide.wgbh.org/), a site covering the Cape Cod area. They focus on climate change, weather, and oceans. The site has a bold header with three pictures linked to some of its popular articles. The site has a two column layout with its recent postings on the left, and widgets and links on the right. It makes ample use of the site’s ability to present audio and video clips, as well as big pictures that suck the the audience into reading more.

  3. Similar to the title of Wes’ site, “DCentric,” I like New York City’s version of Project Argo, titled “The Empire.” “DCentric” is kind of fun and catchy, but “The Empire” gives off a more powerful vibe, which is appropriate considering that this site aims to provide “Everything you need to know about New York state politics and governance.” The front page is clean and organized, making it easy on the viewer to navigate around. Whether interested in news, culture, shows, or music, it is pretty obvious where to find these particular topics. When I click on “culture,” for example, I find a page also tightly organized with several different options at the top of the page, as well as the most recent stories below. I also like the “More WNYC Arts Coverage” text box, especially the “Know Your Neighborhood” link. There you will find feature stories about somebody or something interesting going on from Greenwich Village to Greenpoint and anywhere in between.

    In addition, on the front page, there is another area with four options to choose from (politics, media, scandal, law & policy), each with a drop down arrow that reveals the latest posts and hottest topics. I like this feature because even if a viewer consistently visits “The Empire,” he may not be interested in each individual topic, and the ability to specifically choose which platform is especially useful. Furthermore, as you scroll down the page, the most recent posts appear, many of which feature video or photos. Each post links the viewer to all the incorporated figures within the story, which once again is a great way to remain organized. If I want to only view stories featuring New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, I have the ability to do so. Overall, I like “The Empire” because for the novice internet browser like me, it is easy to move around and find what I am interested in.

  4. Kirby Mills says:

    “Home Post” is a blog that covers military-related issues based out of San Diego. This blog is a lot like the other Project Argo blog sites. The WordPress-like interface makes it user-friendly and very easy to navigate. This interface is becoming more recognizable to users. Therefore, sites like “Home Post” are easier to navigate than similar sites that do not use a WordPress interface.

    That being said, comparing “Home Post” to another blog also covering military issues makes it easier to figure out how the WordPress interface helps and hurts the blog site. Jamie McIntyre’s Line of Departure blog is Military.com’s news and policy blog. Navigating McIntyre’s blog was tough right away because no post on the home page had a time stamp attached and none were they categorized or tagged. Also, because McIntyre’s blog interface is not very familiar, it made it hard figure out what stuff was updated routinely and what stuff was a mainstay on the homepage. When looking at “Home Post,” it is obvious where the new posts go on the home page and where the blog description lives.

    Simplicity is sometimes better and definitely in situations like this. McIntyre’s blog has a layout error where an embedded video covers up some links. The video is too large for its proportioned grid. From experiences with WordPress, it would be very hard to run into a problem like this. But, even if this did happen, WordPress makes it easy to manage to make the fix. The two column layout of “Home Post” does create some problems though because the widgets and advertisements are kind of jumbled in the sidebar. However, habitually returning to this site would make the sidebar easier to navigate.
    http://homepost.kpbs.org/
    http://www.lineofdeparture.com/

  5. Danielle says:

    Southern California Public Radio’s Multi-American website creates a forum solely devoted to one of the most controversial issues of the area; immigration and cultural fusion in the new Southern California. When you enter the homepage, page links are split up into three categories: Culture/Identity, Politics/Justice and Health/Educate. Each page provides sub-categories of “related topics” and “latest posts”. This breakdown allows the viewer easy access to whatever kind of information they may be looking for. It showcases the information and articles the site has to offer. Other key components also appear under the page headers, including California legislation key to this topic such as the Dream Act.

    Like Wes talked about, the front page should be an attention grabber. That’s why they’ve allowed easy control over the three windows in the upper right corner for the blogger in control. Currently, Multi-American features captivating photos, with children and protesters at the forefront. Moving to the body of the site, the blog entries feature text, photos and video and each article allows the consumer to comment, tweet, Facebook, email the post. These social networking tools are great for spreading the word about the website and attracting new viewers.

    In order to connect with the site curator, the upper right sidebar features information about the journalist running the site, Leslie Berestein Rojas. She introduces the site and provides a brief description of her past experience. The “Latest Links” widget directly under shares links from other news sources via Twitter, allowing the local site to connect and share relevant stories from outside the blog.

  6. Devin Miller says:

    Ecotrope,, one of the twelve regional blogs created as part of the NPR Argo Network , focuses on environmental issues in the Pacific Northwest. By combining the words “eco,” representing ecology, and “trope,” meaning “a turn or change,” the site aims to promote change in the way that environmental problems are approached in the region. Blogger Cassandra Profita is responsible for updating the site’s content on a daily basis.
    The Argo Network was created in order to take widespread issues and narrow them down by regions across the U.S. According to Wes Lindamood, the Argo Network did not aim to be hyperlocal. Collaborating with Oregon Public Broadcasting, Lindamood and his technical architect were able to construct the blog through a three-day process.
    Displaying a picture of a contortionist in his powerpoint, Lindamood emphasized the importance placed on the site’s flexibility. The pair reused as much code as possible when constructing the blogs. They knew that the simpler the code, the easier it would be to make quick and efficient changes to the site. Being a Dreamweaver user, I understand the complications that can come about with a simple change in HTML code.
    The Ecotrope blog takes great advantage of the tools Lindamood introduced in class. On the right side of the screen there is a widget titled “Latest Links.” This link roundup consists of important twitter posts related to science and environment chosen by Profita. The link roundup is an example of how the site is utilizing aggregation. Below the link roundup is a “blogroll;” a compilation of popular blogs that cover more specific environmental issues. At the top of the Ecotrope page, there is an additional custom menu titled “Don’t miss” which includes all of the hot topics of the day. By clicking on one of these hot topics, you are brought to a page that shows all of the stories covering that specific issue. Ecotrope not only contains an immense amount of information on its own site, but also it directs readers to other sources through use of the blogroll and link roundup.

  7. Hyperlocalization. This idea of focusing on very small specific locations and the news that is relevant to only that location is being tossed around in many different news organizations. While the blogs with NPR.org’s Project Argo are focused on very specific locations the news issues they cover are relevant to the nation.

    Wes Lindamood, Project Argo’s web designer, said that they had the technological know-how to create the blog sites from scratch. However since there was already a framework laid out in WordPress they decided to save time and just tweak what was already there until it suited them.

    Though the blog OnCampus looks into higher education in Minnesota, many of the themes it addresses are pertinent to many other places, from marrying for in-state tuition to textbook reform. The blog makes good used of Lindamood’s three “highlight” boxes in the blog, helping viewers see where some of the top stories are located. Overall it was a good, sometimes funny, blog.

  8. Emily Winemiller says:

    I was assigned to look at Argo’s site, “The Key: Discover Philly’s Best Local Music.” The site is designed to give people from the Philadelphia area a way to access and find local music. The site used many of the tools from Project Argo that we discussed in class. The website had structure and shape by using bars across the top and bottom display feature items, such as the title and “about us” section. Also, the website used custom drop-down menus to display five different features of the site: the news, artists, scene, events, and recordings. The website also used soundcloud to embed audio within different stories. Although these are not all the tools the website used, as a whole, I would say “The Key” took advantage of the majority of the tools that we discussed in class.

  9. N.Macon says:

    I read WAMU’s DCentric blog that highlights racial and class issues in the District. I liked the simple and clean design of the blog, especially the banner that alludes to the District’s flag. The menus are easy to navigate and the featured articles on the top right are a nice touch.

    What suprised me about the blog were its stories about pit bulls. I was expecting most of the articles to be about race and class issues, although the article was an informative and interesting read. Dogs in the district had been a hot topic since this past September’s killing of a pit bull on Adams Morgan Day, and it was nice to read an informative article anaylzing the pit bull breed and how it got its bad reputation.

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