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Media, Social & New Media

Moby Dick Project – a whale of a tale

One of the reason’s I love listening to podcasts is the fact you often learn something new.

In this case listening to TWiT on my iPod I heard mention of a new project, designed to re-think how we consume news.

Panelist Ben Huh asked a simple question – why do we still consume news in the same way we did in 1899?

His contention is that, In essence, mainstream news providers are constrained. They have a set amount of space which can be filled by content – be that pagination or minutes or air time – so, they filter content according to their own news agenda. The presentation and distribution of news content has become limited.

He makes some interesting points – which are outlined in greater depth in his blog post:

  1.  Digital News sites have created a space constraint in the same way newspapers, TV and radio have done. A fixed amount of real-estate on which to highlight stories. They use the same tried and tested news delivery mechanisms as before and aren’t utilising new digital tools effectively.  Jeff Jarvis has been making similar arguments, urging a new fresh approach to how we view the article. My take on these new tools is here.
  2. Huh says the article doesn’t move with the story.  Articles – especially those detailing major incidents – tend to only update the intro pars – the main details stay the same. Meaning the rest of the piece is content the reader already knows and has read umpteen times before.
  3. He says news sites haven’t reacted to the development of linkages – most of us arrive at stories from Tweet links, via paper.li or Flipboard, so why do we stick with the notion of a traditional news homepage?  Curate the news not the homepage.
  4. The answer does not lie with Google news

Huh is proposing something new – especially around breaking news. He wants to provide a multi-perspective commentary on any big breaking story.  Differentiate between verified content and speculation; provide space for ‘citizen journalists’.

 He’s called this project Moby Dick:

 I am interested in tackling the most exciting part of journalism: the Big Breaking News. If you’ve ever been a journalist, you know the exact feeling of a big news hunt. This is the Moby Dick of news, the big game that turns you into Ahab.”

Now the web is full of opinions on the future of news. There are dozens of suggestions of how we can safeguard the future of journalism. The pleasing thing is that Huh isn’t claiming he has the answer; he’s trying to gather views and ideas.

Truth is we don’t know what’s going to work. We’re in an age of experimentation; the big players have no more idea of the future than the one man bands experimenting with new business models.

If, like me, you’re interested to see how this experiment proceeds check out the blog post and listen to TWiT.

You can also find out more by emailing Ben direct at benhuh+mobydick@gmail.com

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