News week, day 1

I was anticipating a period in this news project when I would feel lost and like nothing was working. Most projects have them. I just didn’t expect the feeling to start before I’d begun: last night was full of dreams in which I was endlessly reading and summarising news websites but getting nowhere and making no sense.

After a day of browsing and reading news websites I’m not feeling any more positive. I thought I’d spend the first day or two of this week — a week during which I’d compile a single online “newspaper” summarising the important stuff — getting up to speed with what’s happening. I don’t read/see/hear much news normally, so I knew I’d be in at the deep end.

But I’m feeling more lost than I expected, sooner than I expected. I can’t see what I’m aiming for.

Reading news websites has been a depressing experience. Not because of downbeat news, but because the sites are all so similar. In a world of 6.7 billion people, I thought there’d be more important stuff happening. More variety, more depth. Or perhaps I’m just way too hazy about what I think is important. (Actually, I should probably spread my net further afield too: I have been woefully UK/US-centric.)

Also, whatever the content, news websites are pretty appalling if you just want to read the news. Every page is crammed full of irrelevant, eye-catching nonsense urging you to leave this page and visit another one. It’s often impossible to tell which stories on a front page are news and which are strident opinions from someone I don’t care about. Front pages often leave the dates off stories so it’s also impossible to tell which bits of news are, er, new.

It’s like newspaper websites don’t want you to find their few good bits. And there are good bits. I have a greater respect for people who write detailed stories that require an in-depth knowledge of a particular domain. I realise now that even summarising a bunch of these stories will be a lot of work. Journalists really need to know their stuff to get these articles out speedily. So it’s a shame the few good news stories are hidden among so much opinion and “human interest”, and so many competitions and sponsored features and just awful, worthless, terrible, shit.

And breathe. Having written that, I have gone back and realised that the Guardian’s front page is the most annoying of the lot, which is a shame as it was the paper I thought I had the most affinity with. The page is full of things that just aren’t news. I really have no idea what their priorities are but, top-left of the page aside, it doesn’t appear to be news. The slightly obscure “Main section“‘s page appears to be where today’s news lives (thanks for the tip, Paul).

So, anyway, yes, I’m frustrated with this project already, only one day in. Maybe it’ll get better once I’m more familiar with everything, and the purpose will gradually emerge.

In the meantime, if you can suggest any sites that feature news which might be important, that are different from the mainstream UK/US news sites, do post something in the comments. Ta.

[No week notes this week, as I’ll be documenting this project as I go instead. Probably.]


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1 Feb 2010 at Twitter

  • 4:57pm: Somewhat surprised to realise the Telegraph's web front page content is much less face-punchingly annoying than the Guardian's.
  • 1:56pm: That breaded parmesan chicken escalope wrap with ham and more cheese and tomato sauce and peppers and salad is weighing heavy. Who'da thunk?
  • 1:34pm: @blech is a good tip, ta. Newspaper website front pages are already driving me mad.
  • 12:15pm: Hey, Twitteroons, what are your favourite sources of news that matters to you? I would like to know.
  • 10:34am: If no one in the world does anything for the next few days, my week will be easier and less like last night's news-summarising nightmares.