Michael McDonald's Blog

The India Attacks and the Failure of Web News

I am currently trying, and failing, to follow the news about the terrorist attacks in Mumbai a couple days ago. I only heard about the attacks today when I took a glance at Google News.

I rarely follow the news, partially because it’s so negative/sensationalist, and partially because it’s so redundant. And online news appears to be getting worse, because throughout my search I was unable to answer the most basic question of all:

What happened? Google News, the various news sites I glanced at, ABC News, Time. None of them succeeded in answering this very simple question. It’s really, really annoying for such a basic question to go unanswered.

What happened? I sort of feel like an idiot for not being up to date, but I also recognize this as just plain bad information design. When did it start? When did it end? Which places were hit? What do officials know and what don’t they know? What was the sequence of events? After an hour of Web searches and skimming online news, I still was unable to answer any of these questions.

Most web news is garbage, spamming the news aggregation services with useless reactions-to-reactions-to-reactions-to something that it’s assumed I already know about. Isn’t there a Cliff Notes for news somewhere?

What happened? It’s the most basic question to be answered, and all the news sites I looked at failed to answer this question. Honestly, searching blogs has yielded much more useful information than news sites. But I think the only way I’m really going to be able to answer my question is to ask a human being.

link  |   |  11/30/08 06:56pm
 
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