Wasted resources, wasted information

Two quotes stuck with me from this past weekend’s South By Southwest Conference, which had a great discussion on the present and future state of the news media that I followed on Twitter.
The gist of one statement was that the “amount of waste that we have in today’s newspaper system is gargantuan.” More on that later.
The other: “Journalists gather all of this information that they just throw away.”
The latter is interesting because of a conversation I had yesterday with a (semi)-retired investigative reporter who was lamenting how shallow today’s reporting can be. He said that journalists do a lousy (lazy) job in doing basic archival research on a topic, never mind working sources and present-day document trails. He cited the recent story about the Pope’s handling of a new sex abuse scandal among priests in Europe and the not-talked-about role that Benedict had under Pope John Paul in covering up similar problems.
I digress, because the real point to be made here is that within newspaper archives lies a treasure of information that, digitized and searchable, could be invaluable to researchers of history, local politics, family genealogy and more. It, for the most part, is gathering dust in library microfiche files and newsroom library bound copies.
Did you notice, by the way, that C-SPAN has put 160,000 hours of video – its entire archive of government programming since the channel’s founding – online? What immediate impact would it have if tomorrow we put up 198 searchable years of the New Haven Register at www.nhregister.com?
And that’s just what made it into the newspaper. Journalists do “throw away” a lot of data, background, etc., that is gathered to support a static, one-dimensional print story. Why aren’t we linking to the statistics that back up the statement, the video of the interview the story encapsulates, the floor plans from the planning and zoning office?


About mattderienzo

Matt DeRienzo has worked for more than 20 years as a reporter, editor, publisher and corporate editorial director and has been recognized nationally for leading newsroom innovation. He teaches journalism at Quinnipiac University, writes a monthly column for Editor & Publisher magazine, and serves as interim executive director of LION Publishers, a national network of local independent online news site publishers. Previously, he served as group editor of Digital First Media's publications in Connecticut, including the New Haven Register, Middletown Press, Register Citizen and Connecticut Magazine, and Northeast regional editor for Digital First Media. He also served as publisher of The Register Citizen, Middletown Press and a group of weeklies in Northwest Connecticut, and before that was corporate director of news for small dailies and non-daily publications for the former Journal Register Company. In early 2011, The Register Citizen was named one of Editor & Publisher magazine's "10 Newspapers That Do It Right," and DeRienzo was named to its annual "25 Under 35" list of leaders in the newspaper industry. In the fall of 2011, The Register Citizen was awarded the Associated Press Managing Editors Innovator of the Year Award in recognition of The Register Citizen Newsroom Cafe, an "open newsroom" launched in Torrington, Connecticut, in December 2010. He led a team of more than 100 journalists in covering the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in late 2012 and 2013, and has been honored for his editorial writing and leadership of public service and investigative reporting. In 2014, his efforts at the New Haven Register were recognized with the APME's and ASNE's Robert C. McGruder Award for Leadership in Newsroom Diversity. DeRienzo is a former longtime board member of the United Way of Northwest Connecticut, and served as co-chairman of the United Way's annual fundraising campaign in 2009 and again in 2011. In 2011, he received the organization's Lifetime Achievement Award.
This entry was posted in C-SPAN, New Haven Register, SXSW, Twitter. Bookmark the permalink.

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