Monday, January 31, 2005

Trackback and good journalism

Jack Shafer at Slate has reviewed the Blogging, Journalism and Credibility conference and basically decided that bloggers are guilty of overstating their case by a country mile.

In a piece titled Blog Overkill he warns against "fetishising" a new technology or new media wrinkle (which apparently is what a blog is) and concludes: "... we owe it to this prodigious new communications form not to demand too much too soon."

Before then he managed to infuriate Jay Rosen whilst generating a helluva good discussion, both the original and Rosen's response are worth checking out. Here's a sample from one of Rosen's readers:

"I think the very existence of Jack's article is a tip of the hat to the increasing influence of blogs, and the future promise of a Journalism affected by the blogosphere. He's essentially added a Trackback to the end of his column that has enabled his readers to follow the discussion in the blogs and see for themselves where Shafer got it wrong or where he got it right. He didn't have to do this, and had he not, your response to the article would not be as center-stage as it is."

This bloke is right. The trackback feature is interesting, and its use in this instance points to some serious questions, as well as opportunities, for journalists.

Why shouldn't daily news sites publish trackback code on every story? The overhead is a lot less compared to the editorial requirements for comment pages, but the reader value would be high. The combination of the two, though, would be quite powerful. And the loop back to the reporters, in terms of seeing the ways in which their work is used, would undoubtedly enrich their writing.

The intricacies of coding have never been my strong point, but it seems reasonable to expect that any decent content management system could handle this sort of modification.

1 comment:

Stan said...

I just thought you might like to know that blogger blogs can also send trackbacks using this handy tool from wizbang:

Sometimes it's nice to recognise somebody else's work this way, but of course, it can also increase your own traffic back the other way.