Several German news web sites will be relaunching in early 2007 with a host of “web 2.0” features in a bid to catch up with the dominant *Spiegel Online. *

The cover story of November’s issue of the German journalists’ trade magazine Medium has a lengthy set of stories about the relaunch of Focus Online, which is expected to happen this month.

Since his appointment last January, the Focus Online’s editor, Jochen Wegner, has been tasked with helping the companion site for newsweekly Focus catch up with its rival Der Spiegel.

The site will end its partnership with MSN that has seen redirect to, and implement a clutter-free redesign.

Interactivity and personalisation are central to the “community” elements that Wegner describes as one of “three pillars” to his stategy.

The first pillar is use of  “classical journalism” — virtually the entire print newsroom is now filing for Focus Online and there is growing cooperation with Focus TV for new multimedia offerings. Focus Online has hired eight additional editoral staffers of its own.

Wegner’s second pillar is usability — the new site will include more better use of its archives and aims to make everything on the site accessible within three clicks. Tagging will play a major role in this.

Finally, the community elements of the new site will include two major features. One is Focus Online LIVE. A trial version of this Flickr-like photo- and video-sharing site went live during the World Cup this summer.

The second is “Mein Focus”, which will allow users to create personalised start pages, including RSS feeds from other publications — even Spiegel Online will be included, Wegner insists.

The next step, he says, is to let users add tags to stories within their personal space on the site.

Wegner told Medium that “Web 2.0″ is a buzzword which will barely have registered with most of his readers. Only a tiny proportion of his audience will know what a tag cloud is or how tagging works. But this doesn’t stop him from using them, he says.

Wegner will have to peer over his shoulder a bit, because Welt Online has a 30-strong staff under Christoph Keese which also plans a relauch from the Welt group’s new integrated newsroom within the first quarter of this year.
Spiegel Online leads the German online news market with 314 million page impressions in October 2006, according to Medium. and had 60m each, with Welt Online trailing at 30m.