We've been somewhat critical of newspaper and magazine websites in the past few weeks.  Two of our studies, "The Use of the Internet by America's Newspapers" and "The Presence of Magazines on the Internet", concluded that newspapers and magazines aren't maximizing their presence on the Web.  By using a larger number and variety of Web tools, we fell that magazine and newspaper websites can be significantly improved.

This doesn't mean that all newspaper/magazine websites are terrible.  In fact, I've listed here some sites that do some things on the Web quite well.

  • Best Use of RSS FeedsThe Houston Chronicle does a great job of  making its RSS feeds clearly available from its home page.  While this may seem obvious to some, a large majority of newspaper sites make users go through several clicks to access the site's RSS feeds.   The fact that the Chronicle makes them accessible directly from its homepage is somewhat unique.
  • Best Blog Network:  The Boston Globe has an enormous network of journalist and citizen blogs that cover a wide variety of topics.  Definitely worth checking out, especially if you live in the Boston area.
  • Best Use of Bookmarking:  For newspapers, the Washington Post  is a great example of a site that gives users a variety of options for external bookmarking.  For magazines, Sports Illustrated is the only publication that allows both internal and external bookmarking options (users can save articles on their si.com account or their facebook account). 
  • Best Commenting Features:  There are a few newspapers that have fantastic mechanisms for user comments on articles.  For example,   on the Philadelphia Inquirer website, users cannot comment on every article.  But the site does enable comments on popular articles about local news or special interest items.  On the main section pages, articles with commenting functions are highlighted by a special icon.  The Morning Call and the Virginian-Pilot take a different approach, allowing comments on just about every article on the site.  Also noteworthy is the commenting functions for The Guardian (UK).  This publication has a separate site dedicated to user comments, called Comment is Free.
  • Best Use of Tags:  We found three magazine websites that used tags:  US Weekly, Popular Science, and Parenting.  All three sites have tag clouds on their homepage, which makes searching for article pretty easy.

The great use of these features is encouraging in that it shows that not all publications are clueless when it comes to the Web.  Some magazine and newspaper websites are, in fact, starting to get it right.

Know of any other interesting uses of Web 2.0?  Let us know!