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Google Reveals Times' In-Progress Article Archives

By Eric Richardson
Published: Tuesday, July 15, 2008, at 07:51PM
articles.latimes.com L.A. Times: articles.latimes.com

Recent articles tagged with the keyword for Downtown on the Times' new articles site.

When running a search today I ran across http://articles.latimes.com, a site that appears to be the Times' attempt to create a search friendly index for its articles. A quick browse around reveals a good concept, but plenty of rough edges and questionable implementation ideas. It also offers an interesting view on the ebb and flow of Times coverage.

The site is implemented as a Content Management System (CMS) running on Ruby on Rails. I know that because some links on the site don't work, leading to a Rails debugging error message.

The site's archives go back to 1997, and it offers a number of different methods for finding stories. Clever is a view that allows you to select any bylined writer and see their stories. Less clever is the dozens of entries that got a phone number attached to the author's name, leading the alphabetizing algorithm quite astray.

Stories are also organized by keyword. Downtown's: downtown-(los-angeles)). Navigating to see more stories on a keyword currently brings the aforementioned error.

Another clever feature: a year view that lists top keywords for each month. Negating that cleverness: the keywords listed link to a page that doesn't maintain that sense of time, showing any time the keyword was used.

And that, in a nutshell, sums up the site's current state. It's interesting, but buggy and currently disappointing. And with the Times' ongoing layoffs, it's too bad that there many not be anyone left writing stories by the time all the kinks finally get worked out.

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