Friday, March 19, 2010

How many news organizations originally cover the news anymore... not many.

I wanted to call your attention to a very interesting piece of research regarding coverage of China that I recently came across. It is about the Google Hacking case and appears on the Neiman Journalism Lab website.

Jonathan Stray points out in "The Google/China hacking case: How many news outlets do the original reporting on a big story?" how little ORIGINAL reporting on this topic occured and it is a GREAT example of how the web can be an echo chamber. In other words, many may write or opine about a topic as part of the news/media ecosystem, but it oftentimes, it is a limited number of source "springs" that generates the core story and provides all the base of the activity. The analogy I like to make:

Its like holding junior high school dance, a Beyonce song is blarring, lights are strobing, and there are 100 boys all having to take turns dancing with the same girl. It might be fun, but perhaps a bit more variety and a bit more attendance could help the whole event work. 
All these iterations should not be confused with MORE journalism. It is MORE commenting and derivatives of the same story.

What is the impact of this lack of diverse voices and editorial POV? Potentially a lack of understanding or at its worst, fostering misunderstanding. If there is only a couple of organizations that are taking the time, or have the commitment to get to the story, it leads the public with limited options to figure out their own "truths", or they believe that they are getting multiple takes, and in fact they aren't. This only underscores the need for a continued focus on journalism innovation to fund and support original sources, that will give everyone else something to talk about and learn from. It also underscores the need for real time transparency to understand what is actually derivative of what in a holistic, and aggregated way.

As Stray says, "Out of the 121 distinct versions of last week’s story about tracing Google’s recent attackers to two schools in China, 13 (11 percent) included at least some original reporting. And just seven organizations (six percent) really got the full story independently."


For more please see the complete article.....

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