Monday, August 20, 2007

The end of the sound bite?

Have you ever read a story in the newspaper with quote after quote on one side of the issue and just a few on the other side? Have you wondered whether other things were said in support of that other side, but were left out of the story? I guess the smart people at Google have had that experience, too, because they are launching a new feature on Google news that allows the subjects of newspaper articles to comment on them. The comments will be posted next to the original article, but clearly labelled as comments, to prevent confusion.

I'm predicting that if this feature takes off, the practice of media relations will be changed dramatically. Who wouldn't take advantage of an opportunity to "set the story straight" to a global audience? Perhaps knowing that a rebuttal is inevitable, people will speak more persuasively--could it lead to the end of the sound bite? Could nuance and analysis make their way back into journalism? I would imagine very few reporters would want their stories to be susceptible to being overshadowed or made irrelevant by the pursuant comments.

This new feature is certainly an advance in media accountability, with the potential to be much more.

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