How to do Newsfilter October 29, 2002 11:51 AM   Subscribe

News posts: done right and not so right [more inside]
posted by mathowie (staff) to Etiquette/Policy at 11:51 AM (17 comments total)

Here's the thing, breaking news is just breaking news. There's no background and there's little detail so there isn't ever much to discuss. CNN is so famous for breaking news they don't even write stories when they are truly breaking, instead just adding a couple sentences to their homepage. MetaFilter members have even posted links to's index repeating breaking news before, which goes to show you that while MetaFilter may be good at disseminating a tiny bit of information to a large group of people very quickly, there's nothing really to discuss.

When I saw the CNN breaking news in my inbox that someone shot up a classroom of college students I was as shocked as you can be when hearing that kind of information, but I also cringed a little waiting for it to show up on metafilter. I noticed a lack of detail in the initial reporting and knew it was only a matter of time, and it was posted an hour or so later. It lacked so much information that the original post had to make up something to discuss (whether those in the (traditionally calm and helpful) nursing profession can be violent).

Whenever I hear a big story like "they caught the sniper" or "some kids shot up a high school" I wait patiently for the followup info that gets to the heart of something interesting and worth discussion and thought. Usually it takes a few days, sometimes a week. Luckily, some very interesting information came to light just a day later.

And that's the type of news post I can get behind. Hidden in an obscure corner of the web was a true gem, and added something abundantly human to an otherwise meaningless tragedy.

Don't get me wrong, I'm shocked by horrific violence as much as anyone else, but after time passes, and additional information is gathered, many of these tragedies tell interesting stories that let you understand the victims or the people that committed the crime, often leading to worthwhile, introspective discussions.

I point this one out simply because it's a good recent example, though I'm sure there are others.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:51 AM on October 29, 2002

What about this post? It's not mind-blowing, and it basically functions off of a news article, but I liked it. It goes beyond just a news post, as it points out a direction or trend in technology (that may have started with Graham-Bell and will almost surely progress to future-porn and video games).

It seems to me that transcending the basic info of a news link (without expounding out of personal opinion and bias) makes an acceptible post.
posted by Shane at 12:42 PM on October 29, 2002

Hidden in an obscure corner of the web was a true gem(...)

News that is truly new; that we wouldn't have heard, today, tomorrow or ever, if someone hadn't spotted it and shared it here.

(...)and added something abundantly human to an otherwise meaningless tragedy.

That actually means something that can last beyond its immediate effect.

I'm nor interpreting; just agreeing. In any case, it's important to know that the distinction does not at all seem to be about mere presentation.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 12:51 PM on October 29, 2002

Rcade is a pro at twisting the news to a subject of discussion.
posted by thomcatspike at 1:42 PM on October 29, 2002

thomcatspike is a pro at making pronouncements that might be praise, and might not be.
posted by yhbc at 1:46 PM on October 29, 2002

yhbc is a pro at... ah, nevermind.
posted by modge at 1:56 PM on October 29, 2002

madge is gone? How about midge?
posted by holloway at 4:21 PM on October 29, 2002

yhbc is our pro Commish, speaking of praise.
posted by thomcatspike at 4:41 PM on October 29, 2002

As a pro thomcatspike is praising speaktwists. ;)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 5:09 PM on October 29, 2002

context, introspection, perhaps irony. this post (rcades) is a great piece. well done. I have been thinking of posting something in context about the two Flint connections to the D.C sniper, have have found little to place it in some perspective. In someways, rcade took the 'news' and made a 'story'. these two news posts should serve as a kinda base-line for posting.

What about this post? It's not mind-blowing, and it basically functions off of a news article, but I liked it.

i did too. your right, but the content, the story is interesting because of the new medium we have (web) It is a good MeFi news item.
posted by clavdivs at 7:17 PM on October 29, 2002

Perhaps we should adjust our blanket snarkism "Newsfilter" to a more appropriate "Breakingnewsfilter!"
posted by Stan Chin at 7:48 PM on October 29, 2002

"MetaFilter: When news breaks... we fix it!"

(Apologies to the Daily Show.)
posted by kindall at 8:45 PM on October 29, 2002

Thanks for making this post, Matt. I've never been comfortable with all the blanket anti-"newsfilter" comments that people have made, nor with the crusade regarding them that some have promoted. And yet, certainly, shallow copying-and-pasting of breaking headlines, with neither novelty nor context nor contrast, has never been what I come here for, either. You succinctly explain what is "bad" about news posts from a Metafilter pov, and advise as to how they might be redeemed. If it is read, this post will do more to correct the habits of the membership than a hundred "ack, news! newsfilter! it sucks! I hate it! make it stop!" condemnations.
posted by rushmc at 8:48 PM on October 29, 2002

Where does this post fall within your framework, Matt?
posted by machaus at 9:05 PM on October 29, 2002

Where does this post fall within your framework, Matt?


I think we have an answer.
posted by mcwetboy at 4:00 AM on October 30, 2002

Matt has given us a great opportunity in this thread to point out what we think are good posts--Reward the Good, not just Call Out the Bad (and Delete the Ugly) as has been discussed lately.

So, here's one I like. We probably all agree with Miguel that More (Comments) Is (often) Less. Or, at least, Lotsa Comments do not a Good Post make. But here is my idea of a good exception to this idea.

It is a simple enough post that almost specifically calls out for comments and interaction. What we end up with then is a thread of comments that is something of a resource in itself, full of links to films and film websites. Sure, it's frivolous, and it's not the kind of important educational resource we might sometimes see on subjects like breast exams or AIDS or possibly techie matters. But, the thread was fun, it added links to my Favorites, and it sent me packing to the video store for some classic horror.

Anyone else agree that a positive, informative discussion without trolling makes the occasional "Lotsa Comments Post" a good thing?

Um, not that we want, like, tons of the chatty bastards cluttering up MeFi...
posted by Shane at 6:05 AM on October 30, 2002

Since you've left the recent threads open, Matt, I'd like to experiment with adding some followup links on a few news stories. Surely there are a few other readers who aren't on the 12 hour thread cycle, and go back to take a look now and then.
posted by sheauga at 6:47 PM on November 2, 2002

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