Real-Time Writing: the Evolution of the Online Article

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I had an incredible conversation over a beer with a couple grizzled senior journalists current with USA Today last night. ??What started with Brett Favre turned into South Carolina’s run in the College World Series. ??Gamecock baseball turned into Lebron James’s pending free agency. ??Speculation about “the King” turned into a strategy session about how to best deliver journalistic content to Millenials.

I’m only 25, and ever since I stepped out of the bar exam and into the tech startup world I’ve been hooked up to an internet intravenous 24/7. ??I wake up in the morning, roll over, and check email on the iPhone. ??I flip on SportsCenter to watch last night’s highlights as I get dressed and eat breakfast. ??I’ve got the radio flipping between new Top 40s hits and talk radio as I drive to work in Cambridge, MA. ??I don’t like to admit it, but I find myself checking my email at strategic red lights along the way. ??I stare at the computer screen for 10 hours or so at work. ??I watch sports and movies while I check my email and Facebook after I get home. ??Wash, rinse, and repeat. ??My eyes sting when I close them to sleep each night…and it’s not because I’m particularly tired.

I may not be a journalism major, but I digest my fair share of news media each day. ??Forgive my tendency to live in a tech bubble, but I frequently scan Hacker News, TechCrunch, CNN.com, ESPN.com, Twitter Search, and NYTimes.com for the hot news of the day…multiple times per day. ??Everyone’s different, and everyone has their favorites.

Decades ago, consumers read newspapers, magazines, books, and reports not just for their informational quality, but also for genuine entertainment. ??News has lost much of its entertainment value for Millenials. ??I spend a maximum of 60 seconds on the most interesting, fun, and/or informative article I’ll read all day. ??60 seconds. ??Just long enough to get the essence of the piece and feel confident that I’ve learned something that I can pass along to my friends, family, and colleagues.

How can bloggers and media companies keep readers of their content engaged, entertained, and excited about their works? ??I didn’t need the full two-hour conversation with my new journalism friends at USA Today to discover that they had a special talent for the written and spoken word. ??Their perspective, their experiences…I wanted to know how they thought.

When the USA lost to Ghana in overtime this afternoon, Twitter was abuzz with tweets. ??Always the first-responder to the world’s biggest events (local and global), Twitter has incredible value as an information source, but it’s not particularly helpful for in-depth reporting, commentary, and overall quality content. ??There is only so much depth you can achieve with 140 characters. ??

Sorry to break the news, but blogs are too slow. ??By the time lead writers from ESPN.com and SI.com have drafted and published a simple recap of the game, they will have wasted precious minutes to connect with readers. ??Breaking news on the CNN.com homepage is often followed by a message signifying a quality article to come in 15??minutes??or so.

I want to see what my favorite bloggers and journalists are thinking as they write their article. ??I want to follow Jeff Carlisle in real-time as he pounds on the keys seconds after Ghana’s second goal hits the back of the USA net. ??Imagine being able to get on ESPN.com immediately after Ghana’s winning goal to follow, in real-time, Jeff drafting his article. ??Undoubtedly, this may scare some journalists and bloggers. ??Having thousands of people pouring over every word of an in-progress article is scary. ??Viewers would be able to see bad grammar, poorly-crafted sentences, and unorganized pieces in the raw. ??These mistakes are all part of the real-time writing experience. ??

The best qualities of tweeting + the insight and deep analysis of a well-written blog post = an interesting concept to experiment with. ??To all of the journalists out there, who’s first?

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Real-Time Writing: the Evolution of the Online Article

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