No more huffing and puffing through the newspaper..

August 19, 2009

Is this the future of news world-wide?

Lucky the Duck

Lucky the Duck

Photo: BBC Newsround

This article is on the Huffington Post teaming up with Facebook so that when users log in, they can check the ‘HuffPuff’, comment on stories and share them with friends.

“Our goal is to make HuffPost Social News the go-to place for Facebook users to share news — both the stories they love and the stories they hate — with friends,” said Huffington Post chief executive Eric Hippeau.”

However, in my experience the only news stories that make it to my news feed or generate any kind of commentary from my online friends are fluff pieces, and quirky human interest stories.

The question is, can you mix social networking, which revolves around friends, light entertainment and ‘snippets’ of information with news, which was traditionally meant to educate and inform? Or more to the point, can you mix the two without fundamentally altering commonly held notions of what news is and the way it should be reported?

Already writing styles for the web have change. An excerpt from a blog on writing for the web:

“Strive for lively prose, leaning on strong verbs and sharp nouns. Inject your writing with a distinctive voice to help differentiate it from the multitude of content on the Web. Use humor. Try writing in a breezy style or with attitude. Conversational styles work particularly well on the Web. “

I am not saying that the web does not or can not contain quality journalism. It does. But the vision of the future that this article prompts in my mind is audiences that consume their news in snippets, while Facebooking, and news being similar to what is contained in a daily reading of MX. Only the major headlines, filled out with fluff pieces, quirky or bizarre human interest stories, lots of commentary, celebrities and entertainment. All these things are good, but it is the in-depth reading that comes with a long and detailed article that promotes analysis and the ‘fourth estate’ role of the media.

Reading about ‘Lucky’ the duck makes for an entertaining Facebook trip but it is no substitute for reading an entire newspaper cover to cover.

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