The Online Grind

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

In the world of instant news sites, there is immense pressure on reporters to break the story—even by just seconds. Sree Sreenivasan, dean of student affairs and digital media professor at the Columbia Journalism School and contributing editor to, joins us along with Helena Andrews, a former Politico reporter adn author of Bitch Is the New Black, and Remy Stern, editor-in-chief of, discuss the pressures on online journalists, and how tools like "hit counters" and other instant feedback shapes their coverage.


Helena Andrews, Sree Sreenivasan and Remy Stern

Comments [16]

Mr bad from NYC

Censoring online comments is fine and all but don't do it under the guise of picking out "intelligent" comments vs. stupid ones. Invariably people consider anyone who disagrees with them, especially in a manner which is utterly destructive of their point, to be "stupid". Censorship is censorship - just a call a spade a spade. Gawker is just about the worst - every commenter has to be "approved" and whenever I log in to comment, if only to correct a simple factual inaccuracy, it's never published if it's antagonistic to the blogger's view.

Aug. 03 2010 12:37 PM
Amy from Manhattan

I don't have cookies enabled on my browser. Does that throw off the count of unique vs. total visits to a site?

Aug. 03 2010 12:37 PM

The largest media outlets can no longer immunize themselves from comment or scrutiny. Yesterday's Times claptrap from Efraim Karsh is a perfect example. The Times barred comment and will likely not carry any very critical letters (the Times almost never does tolerate criticism). But within hours, James Zogby and many others had incisive criticism widely circulated on the net.

Aug. 03 2010 12:36 PM

Yeah Right Gawker. Regarding your love for commenters you guys are the worst. You may screen commenters for intelligence but you also ban commenters when they express valid intelligent opinions that conflict with your advertisers interests.

Aug. 03 2010 12:36 PM
Third-party ID

Third party registration that Sree is discussing is a sham...all you have to do is create a fake identity on Goggle gmail and log onto a news site to spout your nonsense.

I think people are skeptical about linking their third-party ID and having their browsing and commenting linked to that ID.

Aug. 03 2010 12:36 PM
M.Guimaraes from New York

The website journalist that says the comments are a summary of public opinion is way off the mark and he knows it. Comments have largely become a bully pulpit for people with grievances, bad spelling and nothing better to do.
I am actually busy packing for a trip ( I am news correspondent) but his disingenuous remark made me pause. And the cash reward for traffic is an utter disgrace.

Aug. 03 2010 12:35 PM

With respect to comments, it is also interesting when a news outlet bars comments. The New York Times is notably selective in which articles and essays allow comments and which do not. The reasons sometimes seem pretty clear. Tom Friedman -- the archetype of stating the obvious badly and the false badly -- is an example of one who bars comments. Yesterday's deplorable essay by Efraim Karsh is another good example of an essay barring comment.

Aug. 03 2010 12:33 PM

Comments on local newspapers are a disaster...racist, repetitive, and reductive.

Aug. 03 2010 12:32 PM
A listener

Instead of using the web for speed, many newspapers are using the web to do micro-reporting on tiny communities and towns. They've pulled back their suburban reporters and are using "citizen journalists" to fill those pages.

Aug. 03 2010 12:30 PM
Melody from NYC

Do journalists feel pressured to write to an audience to get numbers or 'hits", as opposed to simply reporting news? And how does that affect their reporting?

Aug. 03 2010 12:28 PM
Michael Azerrad

In light of things like hit counts and links, I wonder if reporters feel pressured to write more sensational stories in order to gain more attention and rise above the fray.

Aug. 03 2010 12:24 PM
A listener

If workers get burned out, do readers also get fatigued? Is it possible to track when individual users get tired of a story?

Aug. 03 2010 12:24 PM
a listener

There are people who manage search engine optimization...the reporter can make a suggestion, but the manager of SEO knows how to update that information in response to what people are using as search terms and put it into the overall context of coverage.

Aug. 03 2010 12:23 PM
Unheard from NYC

When reporting gossip, like Gawker, it makes sense that the reporting should be as fast as possible but with hard news this report it and correct it later attitude is lessening the credibility of the news. The ability to correct a story so quickly may actually have made the news more accurate than it ever has been but something is being lost in this need for speed. Questioning everything has become more and more important in this day and age.

Aug. 03 2010 12:22 PM
amalgam from Manhattan by day, NJ by night

"Flexible" work patterns and hyper productivity is common to the globalized work force of the 21st century. It's now in full force with the HuffPo and POLITICO news delivery model.

Aug. 03 2010 12:18 PM
A journalist

The worst thing about online news is that, for the most part, there is no page design and everything is delivered in the same (shrieking) tone.

The pages are formatted to make it easier to swap out ads, but the unintended consequence of that is the sites become visually stale.

Aug. 03 2010 12:18 PM

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