Link journalism – the shape of news to come?

October 13, 2008 | By Jim Stovall | Filed in: journalism.

Two web sites came onto my radar this weekend that set me to thinking about the shape of journalism on the web.

A friend recommended Publishing 2.0, an excellent and provocative gathering of articles about journalism put together by Scott Karp and Robert Young. The article from this site that got my attention showed up in my email this morning. It is by Josh Korr, titled Nervous About Link Journalism? Ignore Web’s ‘Cesspool’ And Tap Its ‘Natural Spring’. Korr makes a short, strong case for journalists making good use of the good resources of the web.

Then I came across Mahalo, which bills itself as the human-powered search engine (hat-tip to Jack Lail for this). Mahalo is a bit of a cross between Google News and Wikipedia. Wiki-like pages are build for news events — even breaking news. Much of the information that is on the page comes from links. Mahalo has its own editors, but it is also crowd-sourced, so anyone can sign up and build or edit a page.

(The folks at Mahalo make that pretty easy, so I — always in blatant self promotion mode — built a page for The Writing Wright, figuring I would continue until someone called a halt to my nefarious efforts. So far, the anti-self promotion police have not arrived to haul me away.)

But take a look at some of the news event pages of Mahalo — these, for instance:
The Knoxville Church Shooting
Napa Valley Wildfire

The way these pages are structure is what has me interested. There is a paragraph summary and then a set of Fast Facts. Then there is room for more explanations and information in whatever way the editor/journalist wants to divide it. There is also ample room for links.

So, I am thinking: Is this the mode in which we should be reporting our stories? It tosses the inverted pyramid and other narrative forms aside.

I am putting this question to my Journalism and Electronic Media 560 Advanced Web Publishing class on Wednesday evening. It will be interesting to hear their take on this.

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