NYU Local Founder Cody Brown Tackles Batch vs. Real Time News Process and the New York Times

Let’s be honest: We’re all jealous of Cody Brown.  The guy oozes Kobe Bryant-Bono-Obama-level cool.  He founded and runs NYU Local, the raddest student media site in Manhattan.  He also has a laugh-out-loud awesome Flash mugshot of himself.  (The trick is to keep watching it for a bit…)  And he recently jumped into the real time versus batch news production debate.  It’s a long-running discussion (at least by new media standards), even tackled in the recent snarky, must-read No Time to Think by Rosenberg and Feldman.

Batch vs. Real Time is basically this: Print news outlets deliver a batch of stories all at once after the fact and after careful vetting, while online outlets (or print outlets moving online) tend to report on especially important individual stories as they happen, normally without the time to fully vet.  (You see it on stories like actor David Carradine’s recent death in Thailand where real time online reports read like this: Carradine may be dead, Carradine is dead, Carradine committed suicide, Carradine suicide questionable, Carradine’s death still a mystery…)

Brown’s write-up, headlined “Batch vs. Real Time Processing, Print vs. Online Journalism: Why the Best Web News Brands Will Never Look Like The New York Times,” makes some interesting points.  The most intriguing to me is the notion that established print outlets like the Times are at a disadvantage when going the real time Web route because what they report “has an immediate effect of seeming true,” owing to their stories-are-complete-and-that’s-the-way-it-is heritage.  In Brown’s words: “The messy, opinionated, incomplete, rumorladen, sh*t-show that is actual news production is hidden away” at these old school/old media outlets.

Obviously though, print news pubs cannot stay out of the Web’s real time reporting game.  So, according to Brown, it’s time for a rebranding.  Rosenberg and Feldman’s argument is more extremist: Slow down!  Don’t let the medium of the Web dictate the reporting of the message.  Or basically, in their view, many times getting a story right is more important than getting it out fast.  It’s idealistic, but I think it’s like asking a three-year-old to put down the shiny new toy.  Brown’s rebranding stance makes more practical sense to me.  What do you think???

4 Responses to “NYU Local Founder Cody Brown Tackles Batch vs. Real Time News Process and the New York Times”
  1. Glad you think No Time To Think is a must read…though I am not sure I would agree that it is “snarky.”

  2. Dan Reimold says:

    Sir, thank you so much for your time in commenting. It’s an honor. Honestly, if not wholly accurate, I think snarky is fair, and I write that as someone who happily owns a copy of the book myself and just bought one for a friend here in Singapore. (And the copy I came across in the local library here has already been dog-eared and even written in!) Snarky, in the best sense, refers to a snide sarcasm that may stem from, or exhibit symptoms of, irritation. The oft-hilarious asides at the end of various descriptions of news media’s rushed ills and errors (especially pertaining to Chris Matthews, who you wonderfully hang by his own commentary) and snippets like the fictional President Bush flatulence coverage fit into a category that I believe snarky sums up. Maybe the term is too clunky or all-encompassing to be fair to a read that I am recommending wholeheartedly and is of course too complex to be pinned down by a single word. It is sad that we most likely will not see a return to deep breaths and better judgment in modern journalism, even among those who read your treatise and take in its message. All my best. – Dan

  3. Well, put that way, I will gladly accept the characterization of the book as “snarky.” Thanks.

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