Friday, April 29, 2011

It's The Future And We Can Help People Know Stuff

I remember Ezra and others complaining, back during the effort to pass health care reform, that the news focused too much on process stories about whether the bill would pass the next legislative hurdle, when lots of people still didn't know what the legislation was actually doing. That this would happen was understandable -- process stories change and you have something new to report every day, while the basic structure of the legislation was roughly constant. Even if the really important thing to tell people is old news, it doesn't get covered as much as the shiny new news of the day.

This kind of problem should be easier to solve in the internet era, when you can just put together some kind of infographic explaining the legislation (sort of like the one Nick made, which has been the most-linked thing ever on our blog) and put a small link to it in every story on the legislation. Back when there were just newspapers, I can see why people didn't want to take up precious space with the same story over and over again. But now it's the future and we shouldn't have this problem.

1 comment:

low-tech cyclist said...

Amen to that. Every Web version of a news story about Issue X should have a prominent link to that news site's summary of what Issue X is about.

They can put it in a box on the side, or they can have a little blurb a couple of paragraphs in with the link, or whatever. But there's no reason they can't make it extremely easy for people who are just reading about an issue for the first or second time to find their way to a story that gives the overview of what it's all about, so that today's story about the latest developments has some context.

Hell, they could even do this in the print edition too - type out the URL of the web page with the overview, and give the date and headline of that overview to make it easy to Google it.