links for 2008-10-13

  • ”I want to shift the focus of news websites from telling audiences what happened recently to telling them what’s happening. I intend to prototype a news website where the latest developments are fed into a living archive of information on a topic, making it easy to get the background and context as well as the current status of a story, rather posting updates as ephemeral, disconnected articles that fade quickly in relevance.”
  • ”Almost every news site, whether affiliated with a radio outlet, a television station, a newspaper, or none of these, is structured around this one context — the most recent mix of interesting stories selected by editors. Yet users, especially those of geographically focused news sites, approach these sites with a dizzying variety of contexts in mind. What’s happening to my neighborhood? Who won last night’s game? How do I identify and contact my congressional representatives? What’s traffic like on the way to work? Who should I call to fix my faucet? In many of today’s online newsrooms, copious energy is expended addressing each of these contexts, usually one by one in near isolation.”
  • ”Although it has no original reporting, Wikipedia is becoming a popular source for news. To illustrate this, Gingras shows a recent Google search on the anthrax attacks. The first result: a Wikipedia article. The second: The site of a man who has been researching and following the case for several years. People are going to these sites, and referring others to them, in large enough numbers to drive them to the top of page rankings, he says.

    The Wikipedia article is nearly 5,000 words and also has multiple sources linked. On big news stories, Gingras argues, Wikipedia’s contributors usually go a good job of pulling together a lot of reliable material — often from newspaper sites — and updating it continually.

    He offers a premise: the atomic unit of news content has changed. That’s what happened with music. Until a few years ago, the atomic unit of music was albums. But with the development of mp3, it became the song. “It’s not about your site, it’s about the article,” Gingras says.”