The Future of News Is Not An Article

One of the impacts of treating articles as singular monoliths is that it’s very hard to combine knowledge or information from more than one article after it’s been published. Doing any kind of synthesis, getting answers to questions that cut across time, getting a sense of aggregate knowledge around a topic — all of these acts still depend on a human being reading through multiple articles and doing that work manually.

The biggest underlying shift in conceiving of the future of news as something more than than a stream of articles is in the implied distinction between ephemeral content and evergreen content. There has always been a mixture of the two types in news reporting: An article will contain a narrative about the event that is currently occurring but also will contain more evergreen information such as background context, key players, etc. But the reliance on the form of the article as the atomic unit of news means that all of that information has essentially been treated as ephemeral. A news organization publishes hundreds of articles a day, then starts all over the next day, recreating any redundant content each time. This approach is deeply shaped by the constraints of print media and seems unnecessary and strange when looked at from a natively digital perspective. Can you imagine if, every time something new happened in Syria, Wikipedia published a new Syria page, and in order to understand the bigger picture, you had to manually sift through hundreds of pages with overlapping information? The idea seems absurd in that context and yet, it is essentially what news publishers do every day.

Source: The Future of News Is Not An Article | nytlabs ? Research, thoughts, and process from The New York Times R&D Lab

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