“The first and the last word on a story”? Clarifying the 21st century newsroom
It seems that Telegraph Digital Editor Ed Roussel is putting some of the principles of the 21st century newsroom into practice. Andy Dickinson, reporting on Rousel speaking at the Digital News Affairs conference, writes:
“In an interesting overview he outlined what may be a typical approach to a breaking news story:
- 11:15 Alerts sms email desktop
- 11:25 150 words, solicit reader help
- 12:15 Updated story, images video
- 13:15 Analysis, topic page
- 15:15 Multiple angles – multimedia analysis etc.
“Shades of Paul B’s newsroom model in practice here.”
“In dismissing the idea (perhaps a myth) that the web was simply about breaking news and the paper about analysis, he said that the strategy for your website was to be about the first and the last word on a story.”
It’s a cute little motto, and at first I thought it was another way of phrasing the point about the web being great for both speed (that’ll be the first word) and depth.
But then I began to think a bit more about it.
Should a news website ever seek to be the “last word” on a story?
Is a story ever finished online?
Are you not risking repeating the mistake of old media of making a definitive statement, of telling the public ‘how it is’?
If we’ve moved from a lecture to a conversation, does this make your news organisation the type of conversationalist who always wants to win the argument?
I’m hoping Roussel was more interested in the tidiness of the aphorism than its linguistic properties. But clarity is important. We should not seek to be the first, last or penultimate word, but the place where the best conversation is held – whether we’re doing the talking or not.