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Can Google's Living Stories Save Newspapers?

A new Living Stories format for viewing online news could boost readership at newspaper Web sites.

Google

The two newspaper giant's partnership with Google Labs, has led to the development of the Living Stories prototype. The aim of Living Stories is to customize a subject, provide a summary and highlight new information. Newcomers will be brought up to speed quickly, while readers familiar with a story will be able to get new information or updates easily.

Google plans to make the user interface available to any interested news organization in the next few months.

Newspaper subscriptions are at an all-time low, a fact generally blamed on the availability of news online. One reason many choose to get news online is the medium allows the reader to quickly target what's of interest, and to dig further into a story if desired.

However, that digging often requires multiple steps that directs readers away from a home page. In addition, online stories are generally presented much as they are in print -- in inverted pyramid style, with the most important news on top, and concluding with the least critical information.

Living Stories turns the inverted pyramid upside down. Coverage is on a single, dynamic page with a consistent URL. And rather than offer just one news story, many stories are on a page with a summary on top.

On subsequent trips back to the URL, readers will see the summary collapsed, indicating they've already read it. Story developments warrant new stories that are accessed through the single landing page. Changes in the story since the reader last viewed it are highlighted so new material can be easily located.

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