The Washington Post to Revamp Verticals

The Washington Post, following Gannett's “Information Center” approach toward the newsroom, says it will beef up several vertical sections in print and for the Web, including Health, Food and Home. A staff memo from Executive Editor Len Downie Jr., republished by Editor and Publisher, noted that “the re-launches of Health, Food and Home will be accompanied by the launch of a related section of the Web site.”

The modern newspaper might be viewed as kind of a hybrid of hard news and verticals that focus on specific, ad-friendly content. During the 1980s and ’90s, many newspapers initially moved toward special recruitment and auto sections. Health, food and home sections were introduced by many papers later in the 1990s.

More recent introductions have included weddings (with great success), entertainment guides (with the jury still out) and fitness/outdoor (with marginal results). There is also some movement toward splitting some of the better established sections in two. Home sections, for instance, generally include furniture and lawn and garden  two distinctly different categories.

Challenges for newspapers vis-`-vis verticals include the relaxation of editorial standards (i.e., using non-union staff for editorial), the revamping of sales channels, and typically, getting past the low priority assigned all new products.

The Yellow Pages industry has also been looking to establish verticals. RHD is currently developing ChicagoB2B. Other verticals that have come and gone include Weddings (again) senior sections, boating and especially, ethnic sections. Some have moved toward being separate products  but generally not for the Web.

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