News organizations still party like it's 1899

Ben Huh's new project focuses on news presentation. Here he talks about who's doing it well.

MobyDick.pngBen Huh (@benhuh), CEO of the Cheezburger, Inc., loves his Cheezburger project, but he’s also ready to have a fling with news. In a recent blog post, Huh addressed the stagnant state of news presentation and consumption, which he’s hoping to address with his new project Moby Dick.

In the post he described how news sites are not embracing new technology or exploring new ways to report and present the news:

The limited amount of space on news homepages and their outmoded method of presentation poses big problems for the distribution of news as well as consumption by the public. Even though it’s been more than 15 years since the Internet became a news destination, journalists and editors are still trapped in the print and TV world of message delivery.

The traditional methods of news-writing, such as the reverse pyramid, and the various “editions” of news, pose big limitations on how news is reported and consumed. Unfortunately, Internet-based changes such as reverse-chronological blogging of news, inability to archive yesterday’s news, poor commenting quality, live-blogging, and others have made news consumption an even more frustrating experience.

Because it’s easy to find news outlets that are doing it wrong, I reached out to Huh via email for his thoughts on news organizations that are headed in the right direction. Our short interview follows.

If one of journalism’s problems is digital presentation, who is doing it right?

Ben Huh: I love that MSNBC is trying out new ideas and new formats. Not everything works, but it’s the trial and error that will help come up with answers. The Huffington Post’s Big News pages are interesting, but are still limited to the old blog format. I do love Techmeme, and they do a wonderful job of curation.

MSNBC screen shot
Screenshot of an MSNBC article page.

Why is the current news consumption experience worse than it was five years ago?

Ben Huh: We get news from a wide range of sources, including blogs and social media. That’s obvious. We also have to deal with a much murkier line between articles, editorial and advertising. We also have photos and videos that come in huge numbers and our ability to consume has increased dramatically.

Do you think the “article,” as a form, needs to be reinvented?

Ben Huh: I think it should be augmented and, in some cases, tossed out entirely. It will take a long time for us to get used to this if it happens.

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