Oct 7, 2008

News unit zappa

Jeff Jarvis at BuzzMachine says he's found a version of the thing he says will replace the news article as the "fundamental unit of news coverage."

The thing he has found is an interesting blog post by Mark Thompson called The Money Meltdown. It's a smart, clean-looking page of links to other people's work, including news articles, radio pieces and video clips. Basically, a collection of stories Thompson considers to be insightful reading/listening/viewing on the economic crisis.

Maybe I'm thick, but I don't see how a collection of stuff represents a "fundamental" unit. Thompson built his page on the original reporting of outside sources, all of which can stand on its own. Original reporting, then, is the fundamental unit.

Stitching together original stories to create a larger narrative arc is important, but it's not the revolution that Jarvis exhorts it to be. Online technology does allow for linkages that couldn't otherwise have been made at a single newspaper or television station of old, but unless some or all of that reporting is done under your own masthead, it's news coverage twice removed. As I argued in my unsolicited response to Alan Mutter's praise of Drudge Report, aggregation can be useful and illuminating, but it's hardly the thing we've been waiting for.

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