The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Thursday, March 04, 2004

Online news: yet more stuff that's not on the back of the box

CJR Campaign Desk come through with another nugget from Thomas Lang: some cautionary words on the way that online news is put together, and how it relates - or doesn't relate - to the equivalent dead-tree product.

For instance, the 'bigs' (NYT, WaPo and LAT) have continuous news desks to service their online outlets. Some stuff is provided to online by the print journos; but, where a print journo can't manage it, a dedicated online hack will provide the initial copy. To be replaced, in theory, when the print journo has finished his (presumptively superior) piece.

It's more complicated than that, naturally. The editorial function - coping with the Drudge/Kerry business, for instance, that he mentions - is obviously much trickier with print and online running side by side under the same brand.

Lang should get a bigger spot for his piece - required reading for online news junkies.

The piece only underlines the motto of the blog: caveat lector. Every man his own fact-checker, certainly; but needing to take into account all sorts of circumstantial evidence lying outside the copy itself in judging the likely reliability of a particular story.

The Lang piece provides further evidence that the online media sets a thoroughly professional challenge to its readers: it makes a product which cannot be properly used without a knowledge of the tricks of the trade. It should therefore be inviting its readers to become partners in the process rather, as so often, circling the wagons.

(Monkey-shines like quoting Bush as a senior administration official (piece yesterday) don't help, either...)

[Link via Kevin Drum]

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