Easy news

February 21, 2013 ☼ technologyjournalism

I follow AFP and Reuters on twitter. Occasionally I click through to the articles to read more. It’s hard news, facts, summaries and short, concise quotes. 

It struck me that in any kind of news, whether it be print or online, the content is broken into very short chunks. I’ve done no research on this (as usual), so I don’t know if there’s a scientific/historic reason for this: I’ll assume that it’s so people can choose when to stop reading easily and skim to the next article, a hangover from print.

I also know that the first sentence should pretty much explain the whole news report. Take this article on Reuters for example.

First line: The U.S. Postal Service, desperate and almost broke, is looking to the wallets of younger Americans for some relief.

The article then adds another 19 paragraphs or chunks’ of information. A lot of these are just one sentence. On average they hit around 35-37 words, with the shortest about 22 (usually a quote).

I’d say the majority of news sites use this format.

The idea

It’s not really much of an idea at this point, but I wondered if there was a tool/application that pulled in news articles (just roughly formatted text) and spat out these chunks’ as tasty, bite sized bits of news. Instead of scrolling through plain text which is boring for younger people and probably alot of people in general, each chunk is styled and has the whole size of your device.

To continue to read the article you’d swipe left or right to load the next chunk. Since most of these articles only have about 12-20 chunks, a status bar could show you how far you’ve read. 

Would this be a better way to read the news, would you retain more information? Would more people read the news on their phones?