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Primary Sources

FROM: Andrew Garrett

What NEED does this meet?
The basis of this idea came from yelling at the Today programme on Radio 4...

News reporting, in both broadcast and print media, has become (or possibly has always been) so tightly constrained by broadcast time and column-inches that a cripplingly limited amount of detail can be included (for the sake of this discussion, bias is ignored).

As a result, deriving 'an opinion' is difficult, and usually requires ferretting around on the Internet (or elsewhere) to get a better view of the full picture, since at present, there is no coordinated way of accessing the primary sources that go to make up a story.

What is the APPROACH?
A website, with effective searching and cross-referencing, which contains either the text of, or links to (as copyright permits) the primary source material referred to in the news stories of the day i.e. scientific publications, government/other statistics, press releases etc.

The Slashdot (http://slashdot.org) or Everything2 (http://www.everything2.com/) models seem appropriate. Initially, a story is posted with the first available sources. Then registered users can add to it (possibly adding secondary press coverage), building up a dossier on a given story that develops over time.

What are the BENEFITS to people?
The primary benefit is one of easing the search for the detail behind news stories and current events. Over time, it would develop into a reference for students, journalists, historians, politicians, lobbyists and the public at large. It might also cause a change in the manner in which news is presented...

...and I might not have to yell at the Today programme quite so much.

What is the COMPETITION?
Primary sources are not (to my knowledge) collated in this way for general access. What information there is, tends to be provided by subscription-services (e.g. Reuters, PA, etc.). This should be free to the user.

What BUDGET & LOGISTICS are required?
As in the case of all web-repositories, this could become a victim of its own success - with an increasing volume of data storage, and a rising number of page hits to contend with. By using some sort of 'demand-based' hierarchy i.e. some servers *only* serve pages for today's hottest topics, the overall loading should I believe be manageable.

October 24, 2003 in Increasing Awareness, User Created Content | Permalink



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