I used to look forward to receiving TribLocal, the weekly hyperlocal news insert in my Chicago Tribune. But now it’s become a worthless piece of garbage…
In its first three weeks, I’ve seen nothing in this new rag but press releases, computer-generated junk and, of course, ads. Major news stories in my suburb are completely ignored. What passes for a police blotter is a long list of street names, one- or two-word descriptions, and a time and date. (This is what you get when you have a staff of four people overseeing 22 publications and 89 websites.)
Steve Buttry argues for both the value of copy editing and the need for change. (Steve’s employer, Digital First, is making big copy desk changes, including killing off the copy desk at the Denver Post.)
Journalists who have treated the copy desk as a safety net need to take more responsibility for the quality of their own work. And journalists who have specialized in copy editing will play multiple roles in a Digital First newsroom.
He recommends a restrained editing style (“Don’t rewrite a clear sentence just because it wasn’t written the way you would have written it”), a focus on SEO and speed, and a shift to social media and aggregation.
Jeff Jarvis is brainstorming “new forms, relationships, and (business) models for news,” and up first is the article form:
I come not to kill the article but to praise it. Machined to near-perfection over a century of production, the article is perfectly suited to its form: headline and lede imparting the latest — the news; nut graf delivering the essence of the story and telling us why we should bother reading the rest; background graf bringing us up to speed; timelines to set context; catalogues of issues and players; quotes from various perspectives; examples — all prioritized so readers can easily navigate the form and extract its value and so that printers with scarce time and limited space in the paper can lop off lines at the bottom without losing the heart of the matter…
Now let’s subtract from the article, deconstructing it into its core assets. Draw that inverted pyramid and its constituent elements and then imagine each as a separate entity in its optimum form.