Using the Web to tell a better story

Today’s crash of ComAir Flight 5191 reminds me how poor a job online news sites (especially those from the mainstream media) do in using the Web.

Instead of the plain graphic on the USA Today article referenced above, how about linking to the satellite view of the airport on Google Maps? You can clearly see the runway in question.

Wikipedia, which is ridiculed by many in the mainstream media, had a better graphic than most traditional news sources.

You could also link to the NTSB Aviation Accident Database. Or details about the CRJ-100. The Wikipedia page on the crash is loaded with links to such primary sources. (And I didn’t put them in.)

An op-ed piece in the Washington Post a few weeks ago talked about how federal government employees are overpaid compared to employees of private firms. The piece would have been enhanced with a link to the report so that curious readers could do their own analysis. (I haven’t been able to find the report.)

In many cases, linking to primary and supplementary sources would help build credibility and give interested users more depth. In other cases, readers would quickly discover that many stories are patched together from two press releases or that the writer selectively used facts to support his conclusion.

Note: Since this post was written, USA Today updated their graphic to use a version of the Google Maps satellite view. However, it is a static image; there is no link for people who want to explore the Google Map of the area.

About Rakesh Agrawal

Rakesh Agrawal is Senior Director of product at Amazon (Audible). Previously, he launched local and mobile products for Microsoft and AOL. He tweets at @rakeshlobster.
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2 Responses to Using the Web to tell a better story

  1. Pingback: Keeping online newspapers relevant « reDesign

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