Chip Shots by Chip Griffin

Not All News is Chronological

It’s not just about time. That’s the point that Dave Winer and Scott Karp are missing. Nor does every – or for that matter probably many – readers visit news sites repeatedly throughout the day. Once again, this seems like it might be a case of those of us in the echo chamber believing we are the norm.

Scott and Dave both basically argue that news sources should provide a chronological view of their news. They both frame it as an option, but clearly press for it to be the default view.

But this overlooks the fact that not all news sites are like the AP news wire providing breaking news. In fact, for many years I had access to the raw AP feed for my job and I found it to be a sometimes interesting, but often frustrating, way to view the news. It was chronological – which was great when it was a hot story I was following, but not so useful for the vast majority of news stories.

Good reporting does more than simply regurgitate the facts as quickly as possible. A powerful news article will actually have a shelf-life of more than a few minutes until the next story is published.

When the New York Giants won the Super Bowl, was that any less newsworthy at 3 pm than it was at 11 am the day after? Of course not. Did the facts change at all to merit a new story being written in the meantime? Nope. So shouldn’t it still play high up on a sports web site or a New York newspaper web page? I think so.

Certainly a chronological feed would have value to true newshounds – and as Dave points out for editors themselves. But given that most readers don’t spend all day reloading the New York Times, CNET, or BusinessWeek, let’s not get too carried away.

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One Comment

  1. “It’s not just about time. That’s the point that Dave Winer and Scott Karp are missing.”
    With all due respect Chip, no, I didn’t miss that at all, if you read the post:
    “If traditional news brands REALLY wanted to embrace the web, they would make their homepage into a blog — or even better, make it like Digg, so users can view content ranked by most recent OR most important.”
    You’re creating a false choice between time and importance, one which I explicitly did not advocate. That’s why I held up Digg as an example — because it gives USERS the choice of how they want to view the news. Digg also lets you view news ranked by importance over larger time frames, up to a year, so you can see the news with the greatest importance over time.
    And the New York Times’ homepage in fact DOES position itself as a breaking news source — just look at the page title: New York Times – Breaking News, World News, and Multimedia
    And if breaking news is what their homepage is about, then it is poorly optimized for that purpose.

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