Wednesday, April 9, 2014

IDK Whr Plane Is BRB 4 Frthr News PLZ RT

I have gone on record as saying that I don't concern myself overly much with the exact method of reporting someone does, caring more about its execution. I think there are two rules any journalist must follow:

1. Provide the best understanding of your given topic that you can possibly provide on that day.
2. Under no circumstances should you leave your audience dumber than when they started.

Past that, I leave it up to the individual. There are so many ways to achieve these ends for any given story that I consider journalism to be something of an art form. Rachel Maddow, Nate Silver and Stephen Colbert will report the same story in wildly different fashions, even though all three would be likely to do a good job with it.

There are, however, limits, and CNN, I think, has found one. They've just announced the launch of CNN Digital Studios, intended to provide news more likely to be shared through social media. Among their products will be 'Your 15 Second Morning', a newscast lasting a maximum of 15 seconds intended to be shared via Twitter.

I see no good coming of this. As I just said, reporting is something that can be done in limitless ways. So why artificially impose a limit, and a severe limit at that? You've seen Twitter. Everyone knows of their 140-character limit. Sometimes the message you wish to convey simply requires more than 140 characters to express. When that occasion arises, there are two things one can do: use additional tweets (which defeats the point of the character limit), or truncate the message. To do the latter, you'll start hunting for spare letters or words to cut from the tweet, often to the point where the tweet ends up looking like a text-messaged mess. If you're not willing to do that, you have to start cutting content so that the tweet remains readable. And when content is cut, misunderstandings of the message can easily result, thereby violating Prime Directive #2. Vine videos, limited to six seconds, can see the same thing happen, with videos typically degenerating into a series of rapid-fire jump cuts.

15 seconds isn't going to be much more useful than 6. CNN is going to have to cut useful information out of their reports in order to be able to give them within 15 seconds.

Granted, that presumes that useful information exists in the first place. Another of the announced projects: "Crossfire Reloaded".

No comments: