Press group cites sites on politics

Press group cites sites on politics.
In a rather humorous illustration of how the mainstream press doesn’t “get” the idea of blogs and blogging, that bastion of journalistic integrity, the Project for Excellence in Journalism, reports that political news Websites have taken a step backwards since the 2000 election. USA Today reports on a new study by the group that reveals these sites contain less original reporting, fewer links to external Web sites and fewer chances to see and hear directly from candidates on their front pages. The 10 sites studied included ABC News, The New York Times, AOL, Yahoo, USA Today and others.

“They’ve clearly become better at telling people where candidates stand,” project director Tom Rosenstiel says. “But there are fewer interactive links, less original reporting and fewer places to see raw video or audio to listen to the candidates themselves.”

In terms of original reporting alone, Rosenstiel says, more than a third of online stories (37%) were wire-service copy, up from 25% in 2000. And much of the “original copy” actually consisted of rewritten wire-service stories.

Sites are clearly trying to showcase their uniqueness by offering exclusive polls, Rosenstiel says, but in doing so they often exclude competing polls that might be helpful. “There’s a lot more branding.”

The question here is the use of the terms “political news Websites” and “interactive links.” Neither means today what it did four years ago. The declines Mr. Rosenstiel notes can be attributed directly to the Web activities of candidates themselves and that of bloggers. Blogs define interactivity on the Net, and there is a veritable sea of them in the political space. The mainstream press refuses to participate, because, well, there’s that command and control thing. The Internet lives and breathes among the people, Postmodern people who prefer to get their information straight from the horses mouths and then participate in the discussion that is news.

The study gives good marks to some, and those sites are certainly deserving of the kudos. I do wish, however, that the Project for Excellence in Journalism would grasp the significance of the paradigm change currently underway and look outside its own box when studying the Internet.

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