December 10th, 2008

Breaking News Link Journalism: Blagojevich Arrest


So you’ve got a big breaking story right in your backyard, e.g. the governor gets arrested for trying to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated by the President Elect. Your newsroom is on the case, but the story is still developing. There are national ramifications, so reporting goes beyond the local angle. How do you round out your front page coverage, add to your dynamic updates, and reinforce to readers that you are THE destination for this story?

If you’re the Chicago Tribune, you create a link journalism feature that dynamically tracks what “what others are saying“.

You create a continuously updating news aggregation page (using a Publish2 widget) and you get a team of producers and editors to collaborate on gathering links (using a Publish2 newsgroup).

Then, as everyone reacts to the story, you promote reactions from “Other sites, other voices” alongside reader reactions.

And while algorithms deliver commodity aggregation from limited sources, your editors apply human judgment to create a unique mix from local sources (including your rivals!), national sources, blogs, social media, and even humor (because only humans know when a scandal is so over the top that it’s laughable).

And what if you’re in a nearby city in a neighboring state? Well, not to be outdone, you link to “what bloggers are saying.”

You hand pick from the sea of blog coverage the most interesting perspectives, bloggers shining the spotlight on key issues. You again distinguish your link journalism from commodity algorithm-driven news aggregation by introducing readers to hugely interesting sites like FiveThirtyEight. And you dynamically update with new links across the day (using a Publish2 widget).

All in all, you feel contented that the news roundup was quick and easy to set up with a free service, easy to update dynamically, and provided a solid complement to your original reporting. You feel contented that you served well your readers who were hungry to read about a mind-blowing scandal, and kept them from having to go to an aggregation site for a range of coverage and views.

You can also take satisfaction in having inspired others to try their hand at link journalism:

Like I said in my last post, Gov. Blagojevich’s arrest (and apparent release) is burning up newsrooms across the country today. I was pretty impressed by the Tribune’s page aggregating Blago coverage, so I asked @ColonelTribune how they did it and was introduced to the wonderful world of It’s kind of like Digg, but only for journalists. And I was able to make this really cool widget on it…

Either that or you ask yourself… why aren’t we doing breaking news link journalism?

It’s easy. The technology is free. And it makes your site a more vital destination for breaking news.

Seriously, why aren’t you doing it?

Comments (6 Responses so far)

  1. Thanks for talking about us, and I was more than happy to spread the word with WBEZ.

    There was lots of good, compelling content around the Web. Why not give our readers an opportunity to find it?

  2. basically, FACTS, makes you stand above the rest.

  3. I agree. The Chicago Tribune did a great job telling the public about this dark day for Illinois politics. But it’s really no surprise, the daily news email they send out (Daywatch) links to any news source available. The Trib is really reaching out to technology well.

  4. [...] to do some breaking news link journalism? Chicago looks like it’s broken some ground with [...]

  5. [...] Collaboration has always been at the heart of the Publish2 vision, even before the crisis in the news industry made it clear that journalism would have to embrace the power of collaboration in order to survive and thrive in the digital age. Publish2 now has one of the largest communities of journalists practicing online journalism (i.e. link journalism). We have also witnessed some pioneering instances of collaboration among journalists and newsrooms using Publish2, all arising from big news events, e.g. floods in Washington state, Obama’s inauguration, the Blagojevich arrest. [...]

  6. Do you guys own stock in Publish2? Just curious. Read exactly two stories on this website (which is interesting) and both linked to this website. I’d seen this tactic used by a Florida newspaper on the story of the NFL players lost at sea. Makes sense. Now I go to their website for the latest on this story regardless of whether they actually break the next piece of info.

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