Old Media Vs New Media

| February 28, 2011 | 1 Comment

UPDATE: We were just informed that The Capital is staffed on Saturdays. We have made the correction. (Kind of solidifies the point.)

An interesting discussion came up last week that pitted old school thinking against new school thinking as it related to media in the 21st century.

Old Media

Traditional media works on a rigid timeline. What’s Up? Annapolis magazine is probably planning their October or November issue right now. Each day, The Capital puts together the day’s news before their 11:00am deadline and ships it off to Prince George’s County to be printed. Magazines are not set up to be “breaking” news outlets. Daily newspapers like The Capital have historically been the go to source for the news as long as it happened before the 11:00am deadline Monday through Friday Saturday (The Capital does not staff the newsroom on the weekends Sundays any longer). Outside of that, any news will be relegated to “old news” the following day.

New Media

New media is dynamic and changing. To supplement traditional news sources, new media is relying on non-traditional virtually real time sources for their news. By the very nature of new media, information can be pressed out immediately. All one had to do was follow the Oscars last night on Twitter–and to be honest, the Twitter coverage was far superior. One of the benefits of the new media is reader transparency. The reader can see how a story evolves–mistakes and typos included. If you recall US Airways Flight 1549, was essentially reported live on Twitter and other social media platforms. The crash was initially thought (and reported) to be another terror strike. The news was being reported by various channels as it was happening culminating with passengers sending twitter photos from the wing of the crippled aircraft.

The Debate

Last week, we posted a story about a fight at Annapolis High School. The initial police dispatch indicated that there were several large fights and backup officers and a K-9 team were requested. We used the headline “Multiple Large Fights Break Out At Annapolis High School.” We were unable to contact anyone at the school for a comment at the time and we posted an update from a Twitter user at the school who claimed that there were 20 police cars. As it was shaking out, the Greater Annapolis Patch reported (1pm the same day) that the school district was stating that it was a small fight involving four people with no injuries. We updated our story accordingly. The following day, The Capital reported that according to the police, there were 9 students involved with 9 arrests. We updated the story accordingly.

The debate stems from the headline. It is hard to define the term “large” and “several” also may be subjective in this case. With 9 arrests, it seems logical that there may have been several fights. A reader suggested that the headline be changed to reflect the outcome. I disagreed. He didn’t.  Should the headline of an evolving (almost real time) story be changed to reflect the eventual outcome?

The Reasoning

If a headline is dead wrong, we will correct it. We transposed two words in our Hispanic Youth Mini Symposium article and called it a Mini Hispanic Youth Symposium. We corrected it as the headline would be misleading. This is an advantage new media has over old media. Had the paper gone to print–oh well, Dewey will just have to defeat Truman until the next edition.

The way we create content is to make it searchable for our readers and for the search engines. The headline is part of the permanent URL assigned to the post and to a large degree it is the most important part of identifying the topic of a post to the search engines. It is also the URL that anyone might bookmark to read later.  Changing it, will result in a “404 Error” which says the page is not found.  And finally, if someone comes back to the site to specifically check for updates, it makes it a lot easier to go to a headline you already read.

For current and evolving stories, our policy is to update the original post with new information as it becomes available. We have done this for several snow storms as well as the recent Haz Mat incident on Route 50 and the multiple exploding packages in Hanover and Annapolis. For stale (for lack of a better term) stories, such as an arrest for a previously reported story, we will issue a separate post as an update.

You Decide

I can see both sides of the debate. But, let’s toss it out to the masses and see what you think.  Please vote in the poll and leave a comment!

Tags: , , ,

Category: BLOG NOTES

About the Author ()

John is the publisher and editor of Eye On Annapolis. As a resident and business owner in Anne Arundel County for more than 15 years, he realized that there was something missing in terms of community news--and Eye On Annapolis was born in late spring 2009. John's background is in the travel industry as a business owner, industry speaker, and travel writer. In terms of blogging and social media, he cut his teeth with MSNBC.com.