Mathew Ingram penned an interesting piece today where he outlines the growing movement towards a new type of digital news consumption. The gist of the idea is that people rarely want to sit down and read an entire article anymore, instead opting to retrieve pieces of information as the story progresses over time. The event, the background leading up to the event, the aftermath, and any media information that might be related would all be treated as something separate that people would be able to collect and consume in their own way, most likely in some sort of contextualized reader. This is absolutely fascinating.
When I read articles on a real-world subject one of the things that bugs me the most about the rush to publish first is the amount of information that is either left out or repeated. Yesterday Tim Cook sat down on All Things D and talked about a number of topics. This resulted in no less than 5 articles in The Guardian's RSS feed, almost a dozen in Engadget's, and 8 in The Verge's. 50% of every article was a repeat or an unnecessary lead-up containing information I, as a tech-news sponge, had already consumed, processed, and stored. While it's important to reinforce information we already have, it's equally important for news organizations to get out of the way and just supply the news. So why is it always so difficult?
Mathew outlines the issue that I mentioned above and goes through a few others that people are facing more and more as we are forever connected to news-sharing networks and 24-hour TV. This endless barrage of information leaves many of us overwhelmed with repetition but, for others, a surprising lack of detail.
Just a few weeks ago I was talking about a recent event with a family member back in Canada who had read a bit about it in the paper. He was disappointed with how little information there was in the article despite its length. I looked it up online and found that the article, while well written, assumed that the reader already had a working knowledge of the background leading up to the events that transpired. My family member, while online some of the time, does not constantly pay attention to the news of the day and loses context as a result.
Why don't we have an intelligent solution to this problem, yet?
I like where people like Jeff Jarvis and Dave Winer are going with their ideas. News shouldn't need to be distributed in an article format at all times, but in bite-sized pieces that are assembled in a coherent fashion when we, the readers, are ready to absorb it. How this will work, I don't know ... but I look forward to the day when our digital newspapers are as effective and context-rich as Wikipedia.