The Forms They Are a Changin’

October 15th, 2003  |  Published in Uncategorized

A Maryland paper has one of its reporters

filing blog-like entries as he covers the John Muhammad sniper trial. It’ll no doubt be hailed as a victory for the blogosphere by the “form = substance” crowd, but I think working professional journalists will be more interested in the impact this has on the traditional voice and style of news narrative.

Covering an unfolding story can be really irritating when it’s done in the traditional “lead with the new stuff/invert the pyramid/recap what you know” mode, because some days it seems like a colossal waste of time and reinvention of wheels several times re-invented to do it that way. It’s also deadly dull for readers, who start suffering from feelings of deja vu once they get to the part of the story that’s recap, which can eat half an item on slow days.

I’m less excited by this as a sign that blogs have won some sort of legitimacy (a point the “form = substance” people will continue to dither about every time a blog pops up in some company or political organization, even if it all it does is reprint press releases with the word “permalink” at the bottom somewhere) and more as a sign that some newspapers are willing to look outside themselves to experiment with new forms.

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