Reporting Live From the Echo Chamber

Photo: Steven RollBy Steve Roll

We’ve all heard how no content should be wasted in the Multi-Platform Age.

  • Those pictures that didn’t make the cut for that magazine story? Use them for an online slideshow.
  • The sidebar you didn’t use in the feature article? Expand on it for a blog post.
  • The interview you recorded last week for that profile piece. Turn it into a podcast.

But the New York Times has recently taken this a step further by creating content about content that hasn’t even been created yet. They do this in the TimesCast videos each morning, in which the editors discuss the topics that will be covered.

This is an intriguing use of video technology to provide public access to what had previously been private discussions among editors.

The idea of releasing incomplete content is not new. Journalists have been using Twitter to float trial balloons for story ideas or find sources for a couple of years now.

But Clark Hoyt, the public editor for the New York Times, pointed out that his publication has fallen prey to some of the risks of always being on.

On the second day of TimesCast, Bill Keller — NYT’s executive editor — misspoke about a story involving Israel. Although the TimesCast videos are edited before they are released for public view, Keller’s slip up had somehow made it through.

Hoyt said:

It once did not matter if editors had all of their facts straight at the morning news meeting; there was plenty of time for reporting and editing. But with the world looking over their shoulders, things are different. Editors are dressing better, speaking in complete, sound-bite sentences, and mistakes are embarrassing.

In the same article, Hoyt noted that one of the paper’s reporters said something embarrassing on Twitter and a couple of its writers for one of its blogs fell victim to an April Fool’s Day hoax.

What’s most interesting is that the New York Times seems bent on pressing ahead with using these new technologies, despite some of the risks they present.

Which would you say is worse: missing one or more important stories, or being wrong and embarrassed sometimes?

Steve Roll is the Immediate Past President of ASBPE and chairman of the Webinar Committee. Follow him on Twitter at @b2beditor. His e-mail is b2beditor AT gmail.com

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