Tech Industry

Editor's note: A new and improved News.com

CNET News.com celebrates seven years of award-winning tech journalism this month. Jai Singh, its founder and editor in chief, shares his vision for the next seven years, which includes a site redesign.

To celebrate CNET News.com's launch seven years ago, we ran a full-page national newspaper ad with the tag line: "If you're getting your tech news any faster, we're telling the SEC."

Well, here we are celebrating another birthday--CNET News.com was born on Sept. 4, 1996--with a redesign. In those seven years, a lot has changed about our site and the Web in general. What has not changed is our unwavering commitment to credible journalism and to "Tech News First."

We are proud and humbled that our hard work and commitment has been rewarded many times over. First, by you, our readers--your loyal support must mean we are delivering on our promise, or else you would have moved on.

Second, by our peers. News.com has either won, or been nominated for, 84 honors and awards from highly respected organizations such as the Society of Professional Journalists, the American Society of Magazine Editors, the National Press Club, and Columbia University/Online News Association. That averages out to about one nomination or award for every month of our existence--not that I am keeping count.

And the final reward: the unconditional financial and moral support of our CEO, Shelby Bonnie, and his executive team. We have benefited from their courage in respecting the boundaries between Church and State--that is, between editorial and sales--in this tough economic environment, when it might have been tempting to cave in to business pressures.

So what of the next seven years? Our quest to exploit the online medium in order to provide you with an even better site is far from over. There will be more changes to CNET News.com, but I can guarantee you that our devotion to timely, credible journalism will remain our bedrock. And, yes, we are still going to tell the Securities and Exchange Commission if you get your tech news any faster.

On to the specifics of the changes to CNET News.com:
• We have tried very hard not to make a radical change to the site's look and feel. What we have done, is provide almost equal space for news and for perspective/context. You will notice we have designated the left side of the CNET News.com front door for news and the right side for context. We have also revamped our news sections, which now feature Enterprise Software, Enterprise Hardware, Security, Networking, Personal Technology and The Net.

• The one big feature we are debuting is "Get Up to Speed," which helps you, well, get up to speed on--and make sense of--the six technologies and trends we believe are getting the most notice in the tech world: Enterprise Security, Open Source, Utility Computing, Voice over IP, Web Services and Wi-Fi. Within each topic we will serve up content that provides focus and depth, and provide a big-picture view to help readers stay up-do-date on the trends and technology battles shaping the industry. Consider it an in-depth briefing book, if you will.

Under each of the Get Up to Speed topics you will find:
• CNET News.com Journal, Web logs written by us to provide the story behind the story.

• The Big Issue dissections of hot issues through the eyes of movers and shakers from the world of technology. What's more, we will provide the insight of our own Special Reports and News Analyses, as well as reports by industry analysts and academics. In many cases you will actually be able to hear it from the veritable horse's mouth--thanks to the efforts of our own CNET Radio man with the microphone, Brian Cooley, who will be conducting regular interviews and roundtable discussions.

• Track the Players is where you will be able to get a snapshot of the key companies in the race, learn what they are up to, and find out what you really need to know about them. In addition, you will be able to access with a simple click all the relevant content: topic-focused news, product details, press releases, and so on.

Other new additions include:
• News.Context: In select stories we have added a "call out" box that provides our take on the particular news announcement. This is the "What does it mean?" piece of the puzzle readers keep asking us to provide. This is written by our editors and not by the reporter who authored the story, so as to keep the news separate from the analysis. In case you are wondering how we decide which story gets the News.context treatment, the answer lies in "High Impact."

• High Impact: The challenge with Web design is how to provide visual clues, so that readers know one story has more impact than the next one. In the print medium, editors lay out a page based on their judgment of where stories belong: above the fold, below the fold or on an inside page. They also use the same criteria to decide the length of stories. In the online world, the only visual clue is the top story on the page (usually accompanied by an image). Otherwise, all other stories get equal play--same size headline, similar summary paragraph, and so on.

With the High Impact feature, we will give you a sense of the editorial decision-making. To be clear, we obviously think all the stories we write are important. What we are trying to convey is that we, as editors, believe that some of them have a greater impact. The bottom line is this: We publish 40 to 50 stories a day; given the demand on your time, we know you won't be able to get to all of them. We hope the High Impact feature helps you decide which stories we think you should pay mind to.

• Save Story: How often do you get into a situation where you want to read a story or column, but just don't have the time to get to it right away? You decide to come back later and read the piece--only to find out you can't find what you were looking for? With so many articles getting published every day, the CNET News.com front door is always being refreshed. Now, with one click, you will be able to put a particular story in your folder and read it at your convenience.

As you will conclude from the new features outlined above, we are definitely taking bold steps. Some may take issue with our approach, but this exercise is simply our attempt to better serve our readers. We are confident these features will help you in the course of your job. And we are just as confident that if you don't like something or have any suggestions, you won't hesitate to tell us. So please write to me at jaisingh@cnet.com.