Welcome To ‘The Neighborhood.’ (And The Rest Of Stry.us’ New Categories.)

Everything we’ve done about Stry.us is about shifting perspective. We’ve built a website that’s unlike any other. And now we’ve got some pretty unusual categories to match.

story by Dan Oshinsky
published July 18, 2012

Stories of The Neighborhood -- one of Stry.us' new categories.

One of the biggest lessons so far from Stry.us — and this applies to every aspect of the news business, from design to storytelling — is that in order to get attention, you may need to figure out where everyone else is going.

And then go the opposite way.

Everything we’ve done with Stry.us is about shifting perspective. Take our website. By giving people the unfamiliar — a big site that fills the screen and doesn’t look like any other news site on the web — we can create a space that’s special. This website is the only news site online that I’ve ever seen that has a border around the outside edges of our page. When you come to this site, we want you to know right away that this isn’t every other news site on the planet. The stories here on the site are meant to be experienced — not just read and then forgotten.

So this past week, we got to talking about something that had stayed pretty constant since Day 1 in Biloxi, something that felt very much like every other news site you’ve ever seen: our categories. We had categories like:

  • Politics
  • The Economy
  • Health

You’ve seen these categories on other news sites. And chances are, you’ve learned to tune them out.

We’ve already seen the studies that show that Internet users have learned to ignore banner ads. My hunch is that they’re also starting to tune out those categories. Unless you’re a political junky, the “politics” tab on your local news site will continue to go unclicked.

A lot of our stories are about unexpected people, events or ideas. Many of them do not fall into traditional news categories.

So we’ve recategorized the site. We’ve done it two ways:

  1. By geography
  2. By theme

For geography, you’ll see the ones we had on the site before: Biloxi, Joplin and Springfield. This is where we’ve been reporting from.

But theme is a bit more abstract. The idea was to keep our stories out of the business/economy/poltics/health silos, and give them broader reach.

So on the site now, we’ve added six categories. They are:

  1. Money — The story of wealth — or poverty — and how people and businesses are making ends meet.
  2. Recovery — The story of communities recovering from natural and economic disaster.
  3. Opportunity — The story of those who give, help and serve, and find opportunities to enrich their communities.
  4. The Neighborhood — The story of neighbors helping neighbors and being active in their area.
  5. The Town Square — The story of the big issues in the public discourse.
  6. Work — The story of the business community and interesting jobs.

So for example: Roman Stubbs’ story on The Network, Springfield’s local business group of young professionals, is categorized by location (Springfield) and theme (The Town Square, because it covers economic development — a major issue in the public discourse — and Work, because it deals with interesting jobs in the business community.)

We know that when you go to a news site, you know what to expect from the Local News tab. But what might you expect from a tab titled “The Neighborhood”?

We think these new categories will make our readers curious and lead to more clicks. We also think it’s the logical next step in presenting a news site in a way that most readers haven’t yet seen.