I just spent a couple hours working on a project in which I had to identify the location of a couple of hundred news websites. This task was tougher than it should have been.

While many of the sites I visited are pretty and slick, I had a hard time figuring out where the TV or radio stations and newspapers are located, and that is why it is very important to note that people who visit a local news outlet’s site are not required to reside within its coverage area. Gasp!

Although pictures of the news team are important, words like “heartland” or “coast” don’t help people suss out the location of the local news. Further, most local news stories are written in a way that only those who are familiar with the local area would understand their geographical references. Also, using a station’s call sign rarely reveals where the outlet is located. Not all stations are lucky enough to have an obvious call sign like WNYC. The same goes for newspapers; there are many Tribunes, Gazettes, and Chronicles out there.

News site webmasters, please place your organization’s city or region and state in a prominent place throughout the site. For instance, “Hyattsville, Maryland (or MD)” or “Southern Utah” are very helpful descriptions. This will help people from anywhere who come across your site know where the news originates.