Image via Wikipedia
Because I’m making up for the long holiday weekend, y’all get two posts today.
Last week, Paul Bradshaw, writing at the Online Journalism Blog, did the world a service by pulling together his diagram for “A Model of the 21st Century Newsroom” and author Charlie Beckett’s “SuperMedia” diagram, which builds on Bradshaw’s work.
What started as a p-ssing match between boys over giving credit where it’s due has since been resolved amicably. And it wasn’t the point anyway. What’s important is what a good job these diagrams do of visually charting what so many of us have/are coming to realize is reporting’s future.
Here we see how reporting will move from text alert to online draft to a contextual piece in tomorrow’s newspaper, with plenty of public interaction along the way that builds context at a wiki and then a database. Read the comments on Bradshaw’s original post, and you’ll be struck by how revolutionary people find this, but it IS where we’re going. I consider it a given even.
My one point of pushback is this. The diagrams chart “the big story.” Beckett’s example is a fire. It could be a-mile-and-a-half-wide tornado ripping through rural NE Iowa. OK, but news is maybe 3 percent big stories and 97 percent small stories. (The choice of terms is only to show the contrasting relationship and should not be construed to mean “small stories” have less worth. Quite the contrary, as a former features editor, I’d argue that the small stories and soft news are what differentiate newspapers and add the most value to the traditional product.)
It may not make sense to report the small stuff this way, too. Could the small stories bypass some steps, like analysis? Where does features reporting fit in this equation? Do features simply become the stuff of niche products, and news sites/newscasts/newspapers stick with big stories? And the small stories that fit neither mold live in company-sponsored online communities?
I don’t have the answers. Check out the charts, and tell me what you think.