Andrew Chavez

Andrew Chavez serves as director of digital media for the Schieffer School. He teaches a class on new media Web tools, is the adviser for TCU 360 and The 109, a local news site that covers the 76109 ZIP code, and oversees the digital operations of the school’s student media. Before joining the Schieffer School, he worked at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram as a part-time night police reporter. Chavez is also the associate director of the Texas Center for Community Journalism, a TCU-based center that focuses on helping small rural and suburban newspapers in Texas. He is a former editor of the TCU Daily Skiff and a graduate of the Schieffer School.


Why some hyperlocal sites struggle to attract audiences, generate revenue

Reports about the death of hyperlocal have been greatly exaggerated.

That was the takeaway from a panel of entrepreneurs and observers of hyperlocal and local news sites at a South by Southwest Interactive panel Monday.

Local news sites continue to pop up across the country, despite a high churn rate among small local sites. In 2007, one in eight Americans lived in a city or town with a local blog, panelist and Placeblogger Founder Lisa Williams said. Now, closer to half of Americans live in a city with a local blog. Data from Placeblogger, an index of local blogs, show that between 50 and 60 percent of the local blogs indexed by the site don’t make it, Williams said.

Jan Schaffer, executive director of J-Lab, wrote last month that of the 1,200 sites in J-Lab’s database of community news sites, about half are now inactive.

That doesn’t mean hyperlocal is doomed, panelists said. Read more

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5 ways news sites can improve their use of links

A person using a website — an “infovore,” to use researcher Jared Spool’s term — navigates the Web much like an animal hunting prey.

This means Web designers need to ensure that users don’t lose the “scent” of the information they’re hunting, Spool said during his South by Southwest Interactive talk, “The Secret Lives of Links.” Spool, who is CEO and founding principal of User Interface Engineering, said links — especially on news websites — tell stories. And the way websites use them can make or break a site.

Here are five main takeaways from his talk:

The more important something is, the more page real estate it should occupy. Users shouldn’t have to work to find the information they’re looking for. Spool summarized Fitt’s law, saying, “If the sucker is big and close, it’s easier to hit.”

Provide ample information on home pages, section pages, gallery pages, etc. Read more

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