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‘To the skimmer, all stories look the same and are worth the same’

July 23rd, 2010Posted by in Editors' pick, Online Journalism

Nicholas Carr has an interesting piece on Nieman Reports discussing the speed of news consumption online and the impact on journalism.

According to Carr, “skimming” of news is a threat to serious journalism, which requires “deep, undistracted modes of reading and thinking”.

On the web, skimming is no longer a means to an end but an end in itself. That poses a huge problem for those who report and publish the news. To appreciate variations in the quality of journalism, a person has to be attentive, to be able to read and think deeply. To the skimmer, all stories look the same and are worth the same.

The practice turns news into a “fungible commodity”, he writes, where the lowest-cost provider “wins the day”.

The news organization committed to quality becomes a niche player, fated to watch its niche continue to shrink. If serious journalism is going to survive as something more than a product for a small and shrinking elite, news organizations will need to do more than simply adapt to the net. They’re going to have to be a counterweight to the net.

See his full post here…

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  • Skimming is also symptomatic of our busy daily lifestyles – I barely have time during the week to read the news with the undistracted attention I would rather devote to it.
    Most of my news comes in Tweets, it’s far quicker and easier to read 140 characters when you’re busy at work with other things!
    Thats why I enjoy the weekend papers, or weekly paper summaries (such as the Guardian Weekly. It means I can read the news I’ve only got soundbites from during the week in mroe depth, in my own time.
    Save the best writing for the weekend, most people have more time then!

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