The Article as Luxury

The Article as Luxury

Here is an interesting take on the value the journalist brings to journalism. Is it storytelling? Or is the article itself–the finely crafted prose that brings the details into context–simply becoming a luxury by product?

In his blog post, Jeff Jarvis highlights a few episodes that have made him begin to question whether journalists should actually spend time assembling the details they collect in the field. He writes: “The coverage can come from a reporter and in some cases from witnesses’ cameras and quotes. The story can be written elsewhere by someone who can add value by compiling perspectives and facts from many witnesses and sources. It harkens back to the days of newspaper rewritemen (I was one).

“Carry this to the extreme — that’s my specialty — and we see witnesses everywhere, some of them reporters, some people who happen to be at a news event before reporters arrive (and now we can reach them via Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare….), some who may be participants but are sharing photos and facts via Twitter. Already on the web, we see others — bloggers — turn these distributed snippets into narratives: posts, stories, articles.”

He asks many important questions. Jarvis predicts that some specialization is likely to occur in the field–some reporters focusing more on the collection of details, while others thrive in assembling the collected material into useful narratives.

“The bigger question all this raises is when and whether we need articles. Oh, we still do. Articles can make it easy to catch up on a complex story; they make for easier reading than a string of disjointed facts; they pull together strands of a story and add perspective. Articles are wonderful. But they are no longer necessary for every event,” writes Jarvis. “Sometimes, a quick update is sufficient; other times a collection of videos can do the trick. Other times, articles are good.”