Friday, January 2, 2009

Addressing overload: how reporters can help readers make sense of the world

More from the excellent Matt Thompson's blog, which addresses the information overload and how traditional journalists can retrain themselves to become relevant. I might add that becoming relevant means keeping one's job and staying in business. Some of Matt's recommendations, with my comments in parenthesis:
1) Are we making our community feel better informed or merely distracted? (This goes to the heart of the old way of simply "reporting the news" that may or may be of relevance to the reader.
2) How important is this for our community to know, and why? (It's not enough that "news" happens; it has to be relevant.)
3) Are we chasing the larger story, or just the latest story? (Simply "chasing" stories is not only the path of least resistance but it's also downright lazy.)
4) Are we synthesizing information, or merely aggregating it?
7) Are we using 1,000 words where a picture should be? (This is what I call the tyranny of the story form, where reporters build everything around a 20-inch bylined piece where other forms may be better)
The complete list is on Recommended reading.

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