Tulsa World’s new sports sites link prominently to competitors

When Jason Collington suggested that the Tulsa World feature sports content from other news outlets in the region, the idea was met with a little hesitation from some people in the newsroom. Why would the paper promote articles and commentary it didn’t create?

But then he explained it using a simple analogy. The paper’s die-hard sports fans, like careful shoppers, would never be satisfied with a lack of variety. Their news diet demanded more content, and they would go elsewhere to get it if they had to.

“One thing I realized is, we would never go to a grocery store with one kind of tomato sauce,” Collington, the World’s Web editor, said.

So he started sketching “like a madman,” trying to come up with ideas for the site. He showed them around the newsroom for feedback.

OU Sports Extra, a kind of meta sports website that debuted today, aggregates content from other news organizations and puts them in one place for fans.

OU Sports Extra and OSU Sports Extra, which debuted Wednesday, are sports sites that aim to be the definitive destination for fans of those schools’ sports — partly by linking to all the competition.

A quick glance down the page of OU Sports Extra shows that content from other sites is featured prominently alongside stories from the Tulsa World. One big story on the site Wednesday was a piece from World staff about the University of Oklahoma’s new uniforms. Right next to that, at the top of the page, is a photo gallery from The Oklahoman showing how the football team’s uniforms have changed throughout the years. To the right of that is a series of RSS feeds from news organizations that cover the other teams in the University of Oklahoma’s conference.

Just below that is a grid with 14 writers, analysts and columnists from all of the papers who cover the University of Oklahoma — including a link to OU’s student newspaper, The Oklahoma Daily.

Before the World launched the sites, Collington contacted other news organizations and asked whether it was OK to aggregate their content. They all responded in the affirmative and thanked the World for linking to them, he said.

“They’re getting a lot of referrals,” he said.

Although the paper unveiled the sites publicly today, Collington tested them on some local sports fans to see if the site needed any tweaking. One of his friends, a huge Oklahoma State University fan, said that he’s actually reading more sports content then he was before because it’s all in one place.

The best way to serve our readers is to give them a destination site that allows them to pick and choose what they want,” Collington said.

Ultimately, the World wants to extend its aggregation approach to other sports, including basketball, Collington said. The more attention any given sport gets from other news organizations in the area, the easier it will be for the World to create a single site with a roundup of that coverage.

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  • http://carsonnow.org Kirk Caraway

    It’s about time. I tried to argue this point seven years ago with the newspaper I worked for, and they wouldn’t even consider linking to
    outside content. I quit five years ago and started my own local news
    site, linking out to any story local readers might find interesting.
    Now, my site has more readers than the newspaper. We are growing and profitable, while the newspaper is
    shrinking and losing money.

    It’s amazing that newspapers still haven’t learned this lesson.