Diff's of CNN and NYT articles
June 18, 2012 11:24 PM   Subscribe

Online articles often change after publication, except there is no history tab and sometimes those revisions are controversial, for example this Politico story on General Stanley McChrystal. Enter NewsDiff: Tracking Online News Articles Over Time. It allows you to compare evolving versions of online news articles after they are published, starting with The New York Times and CNN. Here are some example diffs - see anything controversial? Last year, Times executive editor Jill Abramson called the idea "unrealistic" in response to an OpEd calling for diffs. (via)
posted by stbalbach (11 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
All the News that's Fit to Quash Print
posted by twoleftfeet at 12:04 AM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

This is such a great idea. It would be even better if it was tracking 100's of news orgs and there was an editorial staff that would pick out the most egregious changes. That seems like something the Knight Foundation should get behind post-haste.
posted by to sir with millipedes at 12:12 AM on June 19, 2012 [5 favorites]

Similarly, for the BBC.
posted by Talkie Toaster at 12:21 AM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

This is fantastic, thanks. It's worth noting - again - that in the blog world, altering a post after publishing it and not noting the fact is considered, at best, terrible form, and at worst, a violation of basic standards of publishing.

Funny how mainstream press outlets seem to have missed that.
posted by mediareport at 5:00 AM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

Huh. Some of the edits are solely in the date/time marker; I don't see anything else different. They should probably filter those.
posted by mediareport at 5:07 AM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

Some of these are pretty trivial - adding the probable cause of death as the story develops about Rodney King, for instance. Fairly unlikely to be motivated by any censorial thoughts.

However, that's not the point. The point is that this practice has long obscured any actual censorial decisions, along with perfectly reasonable editorial decisions (story flow, new information, corrections and clarifications of honest mistakes or confusing wordings). And we now have the power to open that lid, and peer within. And those who've lived in that limited-access box don't want us to.

Traditional news media remain far behind the curve in what savvy readers now expect, and naively believe that they can stay there. They're being dragged petulantly into the millenium years, and now we expect them to change again? C'mon, be reasonable! (/snark) News at 11 right now, on my phone's RSS feed.
posted by IAmBroom at 6:43 AM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

If you read your news through RSS feeds, you can already see some of this editorial correction, or at least the corrections in the synopsis. But this is a great idea and I'm glad someone's implementing it.
posted by immlass at 7:03 AM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

"the democratically elected, Islamist-led Parliament" ==> "the competitively elected, Islamist-led Parliament."

"Singapore’s single-party rule" ==> "Singapore’s single-party dominance."

It's like seeing propaganda in real time.
posted by euphorb at 8:05 AM on June 19, 2012

There is also a not uncommon practice among the AP/UPI feeds to release multiple versions of the same story, some versions tuned to readers in red state Nebraska, others tuned to blue state MA. It's easy to pick up if you compare stories AP stories published in local papers. It's funny how a subtle it can be with just a few key word changes to slant one way or another.
posted by stbalbach at 8:13 AM on June 19, 2012 [3 favorites]

Fascinating. Brings to mind the old saw about news being like sausage, enjoy the result but don't watch how it's made. Some of these edits really show how it's made.

It helps removes any mystique I held about how newspapers (NYT in particular) and journalists seem to be expert and infallible. The reality is quite different of course and this site shows me concrete examples of how and why.

On the positive side it has examples of how stories are developed via diligent effort by the news staff. For example one article had this line:

> Calls to the Femco management office went unanswered.

The next change removed that line and substituted this:

> A representative who answered the phone at Femco's Moscow office said that the agency would not comment on the Alaed, but would be releasing a statement later in the day.

...and also added a credit to another reporter working in Moscow. Pretty interesting.
posted by danl at 12:25 PM on June 19, 2012

I'd be much more interested in articles that state plainly which "experts" were "consulted" in their construction. Spin is a much bigger problem than mere fact-corrections or lapses of directness.
posted by Twang at 3:18 PM on June 19, 2012

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