07. What is evolving news?

On the Internet, the very definition of an article is different than on other media. From the simple tweet to the in-depth analysis, the online web article is a constantly evolving information process, that journalists must update all the time.

On the Internet, an article is never over with.

The Internet has constant streams. Unlike television and radio (both of them streaming media), it has no fixed rendezvous, probably because it was born in a time of globalization, when the news changes 24/7. Therefore news can be published anytime. There’s no need for news embargo, even if there’s more traffic at certain hours of the day.

These days more and more news start with a simple link to a tweet. Such was the case with Michael Jackson’s death, first announced by gossip pure player TMZ : “BREAKING – : Michael Jackson rushed to LA hospital following cardiac arrest”.

Over the 24 hours following this tweet, traffic on Twitter doubled and tripled on Facebook. People were talking about it everywhere. The following day, the world’s biggest daily newspapers were able to offer a detailed necrology to their readers. Two years later, a court in LA sentenced the doctor who was caring for the star before he died. This example illustrates perfectly the notion of evolving articles, whose contents get deeper as the story goes, included over long period of times.

How should you add the updates ?

One of the major stakes in online journalism is bringing concrete and visible updates to a story. Therefore it is crucial to create a time stamp (day, year and hour of publication) and tag precisely your contents : it will help users find their ways among the stories. It will also give true added value to your archives. Every time Michael Jackson’s death comes back on the scene, these contents will be “called upon” by search engines and read (or reread) by web users.

Therefore journalists must abide by two rules :

  • Admit you’ve made a mistakes after a readers brings your attention to it.
  • Make this mistake visible by signaling an edit at the end your article.

This will and will grant you respect from your audience as well as strengthen the humility of your fellow journalists.