Track Changes & Journalism

by Roger Pynn

Anyone concerned about the future of journalism (in all its forms), and attendant issues of accuracy, transparency and “paper trails,” should read this intriguing article from Chris Dannen at FAST COMPANY’s Co.LABS.

You may think by the time you’re through that all they’ve done is to apply the concepts of Microsoft’s Track Changes or some other group editing tool to the business of online journalism.  But this is so much more, and actually goes to a point I made last week commenting on an earlier post.

I had written about a misleading headline that simply wasn’t supported by the facts in the story.  Rather than updating the story in a way that noted the mistake and let readers know the paper cares about these issues, simply replaced it.  It clearly points to the “rush to publish” mentality and the pressures on newsrooms that are underfunded and understaffed.  Editing is falling by the wayside in many cases.

Dannen’s article points to what could be a new way for journalists to not only address the important issues facing online media, but perhaps to also boost their following, click-through rates, reader loyalty … and, eventually, the bottom line.

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