There is no lostness like that which comes to a man when a perfect and certain pattern has dissolved about him. — John Steinbeck

MORE DIMES, Part 4 of 5

IV. New, New Journalism

A senior executive at the Minnesota Science Museum once lamented that “The news is not brought to you by the Future.” That cannot continue. We cannot afford to allow the definitions of the past to hamstring the interests of readers of today, whose access to information includes research into what’s likely to happen tomorrow.

News brought to you by the future isn’t only about technology and medicine.
⁃ That a 3D printer is now creating body parts is yesterday’s news. When they’ll be delivering body part machines to the local hospital and what insurance will and won’t cover it – that’s the new news.

⁃ What Politicians said versus what they are planning should already be part of the daily news, not just the Daily Show. But more than that, what politicians are planning and the likely repercussions to the various communities – that’s the new news. (Don’t laugh – how many times have national politicians lamented they don’t have direct impact on the funding of local road improvements, because street repair is the most visible and talked about civil concern.)

⁃ News with recognition that institutional plans and programs, whether private or public, will likely effect areas of higher and lower population density differently; and they will be viewed, praised and rejected by different populations differently – that’s the new news.

Like the New Journalism of the 60’s, the New New Journalism seeks to be useful – news you can use – but makes use of multiple media, web-centered, with ample use of original, off-site and archival material.

⁃ That there was a fire somewhere isn’t news. That there were 20 fires today, and that 90% of all fires are due to electrical shorts, smoking, and propane heaters, and a web link to preventative techniques – that’s new news.

⁃ That there was a burglary on 20th street isn’t news. That there were 12 burglaries, 15 thefts and 4 robberies, with 90% of the burglaries due to unlocked doors, 70% of the thefts due to unattended purses, and that all of the robbers were captured on surveillance footage, but the quality of the images were too awful to use; with a link to an online map of where and when these acts happen, and preventative techniques, and causes as postulated in academia, and by selected Authors, and comparisons between crime rates in similar sized cities in Norway – that’s new news.

Why crime is higher here than in Oslo or Bergen Norway is editorial fodder, and the perfect chance to engage on social media.

Finally, the New New Journalism isn’t afraid of video. Anyone who says the video from an iPhone isn’t good enough works for Canon. Even bad videography can be turned into a series of moving stills (and contrary to Apple Computer’s belief, Ken Burns did not invent tilting and panning across still images). Anyone who says video dictates a certain style is describing culture, not not intrinsic attributes of the medium.

“New Journalism,” defined in the 1960’s, with its emphasis on relevance, is not in conflict with the “listicles” popularized by Google headers. If the Top 14 funniest kitty-cat videos provide the funnel that leads to opportunities to read news and/or articles of social relevance, hooray for kitty-cat videos.

Copyright 2013, Craig Sinard.