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Blog Posted in avatar   Steven Z.K. Nickels's Blog

Rewriters in Cyberspace

By Steven Z.K. Nickels
Posted May 4, 2011 in Technology
Journalism online today seems to be more and more about rewrites of stories and not so much about taking the time, effort and patience to independently confirm the facts of a story. I am not speaking of any particular media source, I think most are guilty of it. There is some genuine, creative news writing going on on some web sites but with the lightening quick news cycles today, creative news "rewriters" seem to be needed more than the actual "writers."
Take any breaking story as an example of how news reporting seems to the norm today. A story breaks or a piece of interesting, attention-getting news appears on a news web site. Do a Google search on the story a few times during the day and notice how the news reports begin to multiply. Click on various links to the same story and Voila! The vast majority, even from the mainstream news outlets are basically rewrites of the original story. And some of the major outlets avoid crediting a possible rival or linking to a source story like the plague.
Now, i'm not a "professional" journalist as most would define that, but I have studied much and written a lot of things over the years. And writing and journalism has been an interest of mine since I was a kid. I do know that in the "good ole days" of journalism a reporter still checked facts and confirmed things with sources even though another outfit had (or so it was assumed). I know rewrites have always been around. But how does one today find an interesting or "trending" story and do a thorough article on that subject since by the time that story is ready to publish, there are already dozens (or even hundreds) of obvious rewrites bouncing around in cyberspace?
I know there is no easy answer to my question. Obviously, one answer would be for more journalists to burn up the 'shoe leather' and seek out those unique stories that others would be eventually find so interesting they would be REwriting them. I can see this as being much more of a local initiative and not so much for national or international news. When those "big" stories break, rewrites while working with four or five other "probable" rewrites seems to be more valued than going through the extra effort to take the extra time and patience to actually try to independently confirm the story itself.
But still, you gotta love the news game! And the Internet! After all, even us "digital" journalists might have a Pulitzer lurking somewhere deep within us, waiting to be discovered, understood and written. They don't give Pulitzers for rewrites. And hopefully, that is one thing in this digital news age that will never change.

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