At a gathering the other day, Dr. Hugh Martin of Ohio University noted how impressed he was with the way the New York Times covered the tragic shooting at Fort Hood. He noted how they tweeted, posted and blogged their way through the coverage of an event important to their audience.
Though I visited the New York Times website the morning after the shooting, I noticed only how they did their usual thorough job of covering all angles. The fact is, the Times – without getting much credit or seeking any (which is a mistake) – has been a leader in the news biz for trying to use new technology for improving its storytelling.
An excellent example is their use of interactive timelines to give context. For instance, this Sunday they posted a relatively sedate but highly information timeline of the healthcare debate. I’m not sure how “interactive” it is, but it does allow the user to skip back and forth, including the eery time when Hillary Clinton was leading the healthcare charge. Click on the image to check it out.
My point is that the Times, while often rightly criticized for fawning over their establishment sources and too frequently hewing to the party line, the editors and reporters who work there know who they are, what their mission is and are desperately trying to figure out their path in the New World Information Order.
That’s a good thing. If the Times can figure it out, as the Ochs family did during the first, second and third crash of the newspaper industry, then others will follow. And that’s good news for reporters.