the transition to digital journalism
Also essential to engaging people in topical sections of an online news site is to create online communities around the different subjects that provide an avenue for people to exchange ideas and discuss issues.
These can range from creating news forums or social networks on particular subjects at websites, to providing space for user-generated content that is topically organized.
One very popular example of an online community organized around a particular topic is the "mom" sites that many newspapers, such as those in the Gannett chain, have launched. See for example the Indy Moms website (now called Moms Like Me) launched by the Indianapolis Star. Here's a directory of all the Moms Like Me sites Gannett runs across the country.
For a valuable guide to creating online communities, see the "Online Community Cookbook: Recipes for Building Audience Interaction at Newspaper Web Sites," produced by Rich Gordon at Northwestern University's Medill School for the Newspaper Association of America" (a pdf file).