2: The reality of online news

When Mosaic was the newsroom browser of choice, space-starved reporters were sure the new interweb thing would allow them to post as much of a story as they wanted.
There would be no need for editors to cut all the good stuff out just so the story could be shoehorned into a tiny newshole.
There was talk about how having an e-mail address at the end of a story would help reproters build a rapport with the public and even lead to insider tips from whistle-blowers.
Even in late April/early May 2007 as CanWest newspapers repatriated their websites from the mother ship in Winnipeg, speculation centred on hyperlinking, blogging about behind-the-scenes goings-on and the addition of whiz-bang graphics.
Like marriage, children and 14-year-old single-malt Scotch, expectations can be quite different from reality.
Not necessarily worse, but different.
For example, the unlimited newshole reporters dreamed about never materialized.
There simply isn't time to thoroughly examine an issue.
At most English language dailies in Canada, there is a push to publish breaking stories on the web as soon as possible.
Having a deadline every minute means short snippets of news are more important than longer, more complete piece.
For example, at The Province, very few feature-length stories make it onto the website.
Breaking news is posted as soon as possible and when the full story makes it to the web, it is usually the version that has been edited and cut to fit the paper.
When a feature story is held until the paper hits the streets, the version that makes it onto the website is taken from the paper.
It has already been edited, fact checked and, usually, cut to fit the newshole.
This may not be a bad thing. In the Online Journalism Review article "New news retrospective," media expert Rusty Coats said: "Don't market your site by saying we'll give you more. People don't have enough time now. They don't want more, they want efficiency."
That makes it a win-win situation because a shorter, tightly edited story is usually what readers get.
Posting reporters' e-mail addresses at the end of stories hasn't resulted in a surge of tips, says a senior Province reporter.
"We've always had phones. If someone had a tip, they could have called," says Susan Lazaruk.
To that end, not all of Canada's daily papers that I surveyed put e-mail addresses at the end of their stories. Only about half the local stories at the two Vancouver dailies, the Regina Leader Post, Saskatoon StarPhoenix and The Globe and Mail have the e-mail address of the reporter.
The National Post usually doesn't.
Furthermore, on about 25 per cent of Canada's daily newspaper websites, finding contact information for an individual reporter is virtually impossible.
For example, the Victoria Times-Colonist lists a general business phone number and an e-mail address for news tips only. To find an editor or a specific reporter, you have to call the newsroom.
Others, such as the Halifax Chronicle-Herald give a full breakdown of the newsroom, including names, e-mail addresses and beats.

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