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Category: News (page 1 of 5)

New digital story formats for news

Tristan Ferne of the BBC’s R&D dept. (Yes they have one) has a great piece about how the 800-word article is still the primary way news sites publish.  

But back in 2014 research from Quartz found that “the place between 500 and 800 words is the place you don’t want to be”. They found that this length lacked both the focus and share-ability of a short piece and the pay-off of a longer piece. This length of article isn’t distinctive and is often duplicative.

With the options that publishing to digital provides it can be both a blessing and a curse.  Having to publish content that will generate eyeballs to several platforms at first seems daunting but thanks to technology it can be overcome.   There are quite a few options for news organizations to present stories in a way that can be compelling and informative. If we are to stop the rise of ‘fake news’ and misrepresentations of the truth we have to look into better options. How they can do that with the current financial crisis continues to be a challenge.

.Well worth a read to get an idea of what the current landscape looks like, I was unaware of many of the options, many I find quite interesting.

 

 

Cap Over The Wall

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When I am processing email and going through my RSS feed I’ll often have a TV show or movie running to provide background noise. Today I had the West Wing episode called “Mandatory Minimums” playing.

The episode begins with a speech by the President that quotes the Irish writer Frank O’Connor who comes upon two boys by the wall of an apple orchard that seemed too high for them to climb. One boy proceeded to toss his cap over the wall. He then asked the boy why he would do that. To which the boy said, “Now we have to climb it”.

I’ve always liked this analogy as sometimes you just have to stop thinking about things and pick a direction to go. Over analyzing things can be paralyzing.

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David Carr & the future of professional media

https://www.flickr.com/photos/scriptingnews/1562975448/in/photolist-4niVFK-ePS2WK-9gCcS4-h3b6hC-dsDEAS-4EUb8N-6tSxSw-3o7E9y-4oJnG6-3o7E9f-3o7E9j-5A1GBP-diWEXw-4EUabQ-iJPMvy-4ExRVr-9cG6xs-2zmUJE-4qhSrH-2fgZ6U-5eVohs-5QGGhU-7SvKy-6zX8ix-5dTFF2-2xPFfv-5dULGX-5dXR7h-5dUGEz-5eV3mA-5eQyaK-55hEcJ-5V3p53-7SvyD-7SvyG-7SvyF-5mMGQ2-5nbozW-5eQYvT-2eoRy4-7xN511-5dXBLh-5eQz8g-5dXKqh-5dTgPH-5eQncp-5dTgHM-5eUVjq-5dXTo1-5dXNCu

David Carr,a media reporter for the New York Times, passed away suddenly in the newsroom of The Gray Lady on Thursday night. His death is a shock to those who were fortunate enough to know him personally as well as many people (like myself) who read his work.

I remember first reading one of David’s columns back in 2009 and always found them very good. I heard more about him when he released a book about himself called “Night of the Gun” in which he describes his battles with drug and alcohol addiction.

In 2011 he was featured in a documentary called Page One: Inside the New York Times. It’s currently on Netflix Canada and is well worth a watch. There is one very memorable scene in the film where David Carr is interviewing executives at Vice.com a “new” media website. At one point the CEO of Vice throws an inaccurate shot towards the NY Times, David stops him and basically tears him a new one in a very polite but forceful way. This is an example of a journalist who cares about his paper and his craft.

David was first a journalist before anything else. He and many others like him show the value of professional news organizations even in today’s internet society. In the documentary he is filmed working on a story about several problems with the management culture at the Chicago Tribune. You can see how a real news organization gathers information about issues that may not always be the most exciting but are important nevertheless. His co-worker A.O. Scott in his piece today has a great paragraph which sums things up rather well.

“A warrior for the truth.
I can picture his eyebrows shooting upward at that last sentence. A bit much, maybe. But he regarded the newspaper — and all of its digital, televisual and other cognates — as a big, clanking machine for churning out stories. The only rule was that the stories had to be true.”

At the same time that the importance of news organizations has never been more important, the challenges to those very organizations have never been more numerous. The same day that David Carr has passed away, 1/3 of Yahoo Canada’s editorial section were laid off.  In addition Sun News a conservative news network billed as “Fox North” is also shutting down.

Much has been written about the challenges to the traditional media funding model with the rise of the internet. We are able to gather the news quicker and cheaper than ever before, but there is still a need for experienced journalists and news gathering organizations. The need to help analyze these stories and look beyond the ten word soundbyte has never been more apparent. The fact that media organizations that provide a heavily slanted view are running into financial difficulties should not be a surprise to anyone. There is only so much of that sort of “news” an informed public will consume without realizing that there is something missing.

The challenge now is finding a financial model to keep the “true” news organizations around and healthy is more important than ever before.

 

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