NYT Interactive E-Mail about U.S. Presidential Campaign

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“In case you missed any of these important stories, here are the Top 10 Most Read Articles from our Campaign 2004 section for the month of July (as of 11 a.m. ET, July 28).”

So says the greeting on this e-mail from The New York Times (click the thumbnail image at left to see the full-sized GIF of the e-mail). It’s an excellent editorial use of e-mail publishing. The e-mail provides its recipients with headlines and links to the ten most read political stories in July from the newspaper’s Web site, and it features a color-coded map of the U.S. that links directly to the site’s interactive map of the 50 U.S. states so recipients can see how each of those states voted during the the past ten Presidential elections.

Here is why such ‘Stories That You Might Have Missed’ e-mails are a good idea: Most readers don’t read their printed newspaper on each and every day. Likewise, most visitors to newspaper Web sites don’t visit daily. All of those readers probably don’t know about many important or popular stories. These stories disappear from the newspapers’ Web sites on the next day. And though these stories might then be found in the newspapers’ archives, those readers certainly won’t go there to search for these stories if they don’t know the stories exist.

Some newspapers try to solve those problems by displaying on their Web site a list of the most read stories. These lists generally aren’t displayed on the site’s Home pages, but pn lower-level pages that can be reached only by finding a link that’s often buried somewhere on the Home Page. Even then, those readers are likely to find that link only on the days they might happened to visit the site, which might not necessarily be when that specific category of news is still topical (such as political news during the days when a political convention is underway).

The New York Times‘ solution of e-mail is more effective. It actually delivers that list when that news is cogent. The e-mail brings that news directly to the attention of its recipients.

These types of HTML e-mails, even with screenmapped graphics, aren’t hard to construct. It can be done in something as simple as Microsoft Outlook or Dreamweaver. A newspaper, magazine, or broadcaster doesn’t need the resources of a New York Times to do it.