6/25/09

A Quick Note On "New" Media's Effect on "Old"

It first occurred to me during the coverage of the Iranian uprising, but it seemed too trifling a thing to mention in that context: new media--tweets, Flickr photos, YouTube videos, Facebook posts and blogs--have fundamentally altered the "old" print journalism, including its online incarnation.

A few clumsily-edited cut-and-pasted articles appeared on the New York Times website as it sought to constantly update its stories, not as events on the ground unfolded, but as they could be confirmed (a word unknown to the purveyors of instant punditry and para-reporting). Striking a curious balance between web-friendly, up-t0-the-minute coverage and classic, old-media due diligence, the Times kept revising its front-page stories on Iran in real time.

Presumably, this is part of a broader campaign to remain relevant in a blog-based news cycle fueled in part by the viral qualities of a "Web 2.0" world.

Today, trying to compete with this even-more-instant-than-TV news cycle, the Times rushed to publish a piece on the death of Michael Jackson. The article sports a sentence fragment--"A young cancer patient who claimed the singer had befriended him and then sexually fondled him at his Neverland estate near Santa Barbara, Calif."--and then this muddled message: "Mr. Jackson had been scheduled to perform a 50 concerts in at the O2 arena London beginning next month and continuing into 2010."

The rest of the article contains more stylistic slips: repetitious sentences, run-on sentences with clumsy conjunctions ("...and the ranch became his sanctum"), and other errors rarely seen in the ink edition of the Times.

It's a little thing, really, but one wonders how else the electronic news era will affect the ink establishment.

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