How The Constraints Of 'Traditional Journalism' Sometimes Lead To A Missed Opportunity To Better Inform

from the experiments-in-breaking-out-of-the-box dept

Recently, a NY Times article about the giant patch of floating garbage in the ocean got some attention, not so much for the contents of the article, but because it was the first time the NY Times had worked with to fund some journalism. If you're not familiar with, it's an innovative non-profit startup, that helps "crowdfund" certain journalism projects. I'm not convinced it's a great business model, but it is one that's interesting to watch, and a partnership with the NY Times is definitely a big win for the organization.

However, I think Mathew Ingram really highlighted the most interesting thing about the whole project. While the NY Times article that came from was somewhat mundane and didn't add much to the half a dozen or so other articles that have been written about the garbage patch, the blog written by the reporter who did this project, Lindsey Hoshaw, was a lot more interesting and compelling than the NY Times article itself. But the blog wasn't a part of the NY Times at all.

What Mathew was really showing was how some traditional publications get locked into a certain way of doing things because "this is how we do things." And in that world "the article" is the ultimate goal. It's a "deliverable." The process and the journey seem less important -- even though they're quite often the most interesting parts, to a wider community that wants to feel more and more a part of the journalism process itself. The NY Times is pretty good about doing certain topic blogs, and even brought in the Freakonomics blog under its own brand, a while back. But Mathew makes a really good point that this sort of thing probably would have worked better if the entire blog was seen as a part of the NY Times process. It could have ended with a big "story" -- or not. It's not even clear that's needed here. In the end, the real point is that the old structures don't always make sense. And while it was already a big step for the NY Times to create this story using such a new and different process as, the end result might have been even better if they'd gone even further and highlighted the journey of the story, rather than just the endpoint.

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  1. identicon
    rob, 12 Nov 2009 @ 5:25pm

    better writing?

    What's not clear in this post is what prevented the NY Times from including the stuff from the blog into the "story?" Why didn't the writer include some of the back story and material that made the blog entry so interesting? Isn't that part of what makes good writing good writing?

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