Jun 25th, 2012 @ San Francisco, California

Reinventing the article: The “Grizzled Vet” solution

A few weeks ago I lamented that’s it’s now time to reinvent the article.

We’re producing journalism in nearly the same fashion as we did in the 19th century. This betrays our new technology, tools and the now limitless information that is at our fingertips. The feedback of the post was a mix of “Right on!” and “Propose some solutions, then.” Below is the first in a series of content types that I wished existed.

“Grizzled Vet” solution

Think of the “Grizzled Vet” solution as what a longtime beat reporter would tell you if you asked the reporter to share everything about their beat.

Why:

  • Sporadic updates to a long storyline using articles can make it easy to miss facts.
  • Ironically, articles can also spend too much time “catching up” new readers.
  • Readers don’t always care about a timeline of events, a new reader wants the most interesting information along with some context.
  • The most talked about fact in a story is not always the headline.

Example topic: The Jerry Sandusky trial.

Mockup:

Article mockup #1

  • All content pertaining to this “story line” is dumped here in paragraph form.
  • The bulleted list at the top of the page serves as our “explainer” paragraph and is chosen by the editor as the most essential background information needed to understand the rest of the storyline.
  • At the top of the page we have a “jump to new” which will leap to the newest information, also highlighted in yellow. At the bottom of the page, we have a list of updates. By clicking a time and date, the yellow highlighting will expand to highlight all new information since the chosen date.
  • We’ll determine the order of the sections here by the number of tweets linking to the subsection. Using Winer links as inspiration, readers can link to individual sections.
Other possible additions:
  • Using the arrow keys the reader can automatically revert the document to previous versions.
  • The photo at the top could also be chosen by social media.
  • Links to analysis could live at the bottom of the article.

Problems to be solved:

  • This format is best for fact-driven reporting and leaves little room for analysis and opinion pieces.
  • Will readers actually tweet linked to individual sections and paragraphs?

This is one of (hopefully) many proposed solutions and is half-baked at best. Criticism appreciated.

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