A Fundamental Shift in Journalism

by Dan Blank on September 7, 2006

Adrian Holovaty has a follow up to the recent Bivens report for Tips to Improve Newspaper Websites:

“…more fundamental shifts need to happen for newspaper companies to remain essential sources of information for their communities. One of those important shifts is: Newspapers need to stop the story-centric worldview.
Conditioned by decades of an established style of journalism, newspaper journalists tend to see their primary role thusly:

  • Collect information
  • Write a newspaper story

The problem here is that, for many types of news and information, newspaper stories don’t cut it anymore.”

He would prefer to see more structured information: giving the reader the facts of a situation, along with links to comparable data that is collected for all stories. For instance, if an article speaks to a local fire, you can link to information about “… date, time, place, victims, fire station number, distance from fire department, names and years experience of firemen on the scene, time it took for firemen to arrive — with the details of previous fires.”

Adrian has an intriguing point of view on many of these issues, and while extreme in some cases, it would be a powerful way to harness the power of the web to expand journalisms core mission.

Update: Techdirt adds their take:

“While some journalists may protest this attempt to “chunkify” their stories, there’s nothing in this process that needs to take anything away from their traditional journalism. The story is still filed and is still important. What the additional data (or the classification/categorization of that data) does is open up a goldmine of additional information and services a newspaper can provide.”

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