Intranets in News Libraries

News Libraries Develop Intranet Access to Resources and Services

An Intranet uses Internet technologies on the corporate network. With minimal investment, organizations can greatly improve communications within departments such as the newsroom.

Information from company telephone directories, newsroom rolodexes, VIP name authority lists, local demographics and chronologies are some of the natural candidates to be posted on the newsroom or news library Intranet.

The Intranet can also act as the launching platform for archives, public records databases, photo assignment forms, research request forms or other shared information systems.

If the MIS Department or Human Resources initiates an Intranet, the news library can jump on the bandwagon very easily. Sometimes it is up to the newsroom or the news library to put up Intranet pages that can later be expanded into a corporate resource.

Since by definition, Intranet pages are available within an organization only, and not available to outsiders on the Web, would-be intranet developers cannot easily monitor the developments other news librarians are making.

As usual, News Division members have volunteered to share their efforts with colleagues for the greater benefit of all. Included here are some sample newsroom Intranet pages.

-- Kathy Foley, San Antonio Express News

If You Build It, They Will Come ...

A news research intranet needs data and tools to become an integral part of the newsroom. A collection of links, while helpful, won't necessarily keep reporters coming to your site. Here are some content examples and "must-have" applications that can make a newsroom intranet really useful.

Computer-Assisted Reporting: Does your newsroom have voter registration files, campaign finance contributions, city business licenses, gun permits, birth records, etc. available in databases? Talk with your CAR editor or IT staff about making them searchable via the intranet. You can also provide info and sample letters for filing a Freedom of Information Act request.

Local Content: Concentrate on what you can share that is most unique and useful to your users, which is often local information. News libraries routinely compile lots of useful lists, rankings and other random bits of information that are tough to find yet priceless once found. Save yourself time & energy by putting them all in one place. Local demographics, lists of current and past elected officials, vital statistics, chronologies of local disasters - these are all candidates for a local content section on your intranet. The Raleigh News & Observer's Fact & Contacts site offers some great ideas of types of local content to compile.

Training Tips: The intranet is an ideal place for all those fabulous tip sheets you've created on how to use the story archive, online database services, Excel, Access, math, etc. Also consider staring a weblog to keep the newsroom up to date on the latest research web sites and tips that you've gathered.

Newsroom Tools: Some useful newsroom tools include a searchable employee directory, a list of newsroom home phone numbers, a scheduling database, organization charts, Internet e-mail access, expense report forms, photo assignment forms and the newsroom's stylebook.

Journalism Gossip: Reporters love gossip. Think about posting all your newsroom memos, or have a prominent link to a journalism site like Jim Romenesko's Media News.

Breaking News: When the latest calamity strikes, reporters often look for the same information. Save them a step by compiling it right away and posting it prominently on your intranet, and let them know it's there.

-- Leigh Poitinger, San Jose Mercury News

Tips for Beginning an Intranet

Rosemary Jensen posted the following for her project team during a Poynter seminar on New Libraries where teams worked on an Intranet Project.

1. Conduct a technical needs assessment.

a. Meet with IT dept.
b. Meet with technical advisor for newsroom.

2. Conduct a content needs assessment.

a. Meet with library staff.
b. Meet with various departments in newsroom.

3. Look at what other news libraries have done.

4. Talk to the experts at other news libraries.

5. Design pages and links on paper.

6. Design on computer.

7. Get feedback.

a. Meet with library staff.
b. Meet with various depts. in newsroom.
c. Provide for feedback by e-mail.

8. Write policies on maintenance of the Intranet.

-- Rosemary Jensen, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Conference Presentations & Articles

2005 News Division CE Course, "Design for News"

Other conference sessions on intranets:

Intranet Q&As in News Library News

News Library News had a regular column called "Intranet Q&A" which asked individual news libraries how they started their newsroom intranet as well as their strategies for promoting and maintaining their intranet.

Newsroom Intranet Examples

These pages contain older versions of intranets, but they are useful for looking at how an intranet can evolve over time.

Intranet Resources

Access to resources on Intranets are easily found on the World Wide Web using any search engine.  There are both vendor sites and computer journal sites that can be helpful to follow developments in products and management.

Web Resources:

Tools and Tips:

Web Blogs:

SLA Intranet Resources

Many of these SLA pages are for members only. You'll need your SLA member ID and password to log into the site.

SLA Bibliography on Intranets
A comprehensive bibliography with articles from the last several years. This is part of the member-only area of the SLA web site, so you'll need to log in to see the article.

Beyond the Firewall: Assessing Corporate Intranets
An interview with Alison J. Head from the June 2002 issue of Information Outlook.

Internet Development
Selected references on the Internet, including development issues, costs, maintenance, privacy and security.

Web Design
Selected references on designing and developing library web pages, including markup language.

Librarians Resource Centre: Intranet Toolbox
Provided by the SLA Toronto Chapter. They have a section on Internet/Intranet Development.

SLA News Division Home

Last Updated: 10/3/05
Leigh Poitinger

This page was originally created by Kathy Foley.