Adweek overviews WP’s new Topicly visual news navigator ::but roboeditor could use some visual design training::

Topicly sample

Topicly is basically a visual table of contents of the (Washington Post) site’s biggest news topics of the day. When you click on one of the topics, which are arranged checkerboard-fashion, you’re taken to a collection of all the content from the Post’s website on that topic, updated every 15 minutes. 

Cory Haik, executive producer and senior editor of digital news at the Post, said she got the idea for Topicly while she was reading news on her phone. “Newspapers all say, ‘This is what’s most important,’” she said. “So I had the idea to create a visually, topic-driven publication and let the publishing volume drive the priority of those topics. It’s sort of like skimming our whole site.”

via Adweek

One problem, though, is that the apparently automated system doesn’t really understand visual design, as in visual variety. The presentation is not really being designed, just coded.

Case in point: I happened to look at Topicly this Tuesday morning while the president was speaking at the United Nations, triggering many different stories on different but related topics. The result is we wind up with more than a half dozen Obama visuals, most of them the same pic. There is also a low-res grab of Hillary Clinton and a gray blank for something that apparently lacked an associated image.

All in all, it kind begs the issue of helping people actually navigate the news visually.