October 07, 2004

The Raw Material of News

Yesterday, I said newspapers could help their credibility problem by not just publishing stories, but by also using their web sites to publish the interviews behind the stories. It's win for everybody -- more information for readers, more context for the source, more transparency for the newspaper.

Today, Don Wycliff , the public editor for the Chicago Tribune, calls for newspapers to publish more verbatim material -- transcripts of speeches, hearings, debates, etc. He writes:

"All I have is the notion that we--and I mean not just the Tribune but all American newspapers--would help ourselves immensely if we honored our readers' intelligence by routinely laying before them some of the raw material of news." (Emphasis added.)

This is an important recognition that knowledge is more powerful when it is shared than when it is kept to oneself. Laying out source materials before readers moves newspapers from the limiting role of information provider to the more engaged role of partner with the reader in observing, understanding, critiquing and discussing the community in which it operates.

Posted by Tim Porter at October 7, 2004 08:57 AM

To go two extra steps. Source notes are great. But, I think there is a lot of value added that can go beyond source notes.

For example: Our city council meetings are video taped and put on the cable live and in tape delay a few other times that week. But, the newspaper could archive with a video server, tag, and use meta data to make everything said in chambers part of the record.

Even in Congress.... I'd like to search C-SPAN and see the last 20 statements from my rep while on the floor of the House.

Furthermore, the media has more of an obligation to make media sources occur. The Presidential debates, for example, exclude the Libertarian, the Green and any others. The others are on the ballot in most states, but not on the debate stage. That's wrong. The media needs to MAKE news when it comes to protecting our democracy. The watchdog can't slumber.


Posted by: Mark Rauterkus on October 8, 2004 03:36 AM
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