Topix, a local news aggregator, has
launched a substantial redesign and domain change (from Topix.net to Topix.com). The new design also offers an updated citizen journalistic direction which empowers users to be the editors of the
news site. This is the second
redesign in the last two years for Topix.
In first visiting the new Topix, users will immediately encounter three options to select from, which include read (news), talk (in forums) and edit (the news). Selecting the read option sends users directly to the news, but the news layout has been tweaked to resemble a blog layout (see screenshots below) which many users have become comfortable with. Users can comment on every story just like a blog. The talk option takes users to the Topix forums which have been increasingly popular since their launch as they generate about 40,000 posts a day on the average. The edit option is a new option which allows users to sign up to be an editor of the site. Once an approved editor in a specific area or topic, a user can create and edit the news site. Vented editors can add content in five different ways which include promoting stories by URL, from the newswire, forums, creating stories from scratch or by emailing tips and photos from your mobile device (just text <zipcode>@topix.net). Taking a page out of the Wikipedia playbook the new Topix tries to keep its editors honest by displaying their editor history.
In talking with Blake Williams from Topix, he expressed that:
"We (Topix) are adding humanity to the site by giving users powerful tools to create and manage the news."
I would have to agree as the new Topix.net uses a blog-like platform which has proven to be a powerful tool over the course of the last few years as blogs have risen to near the level of mainstream media in reach and exposure. Overall, I was impressed by the bold move by Topix, a total citizen powered site. It will be fascinating to see if mainstream users gravitate towards the opportunity to sculpt the news pages of their local area.