Friday, February 11, 2011

Case Study 6

I really like this story. It’s well-written, interesting and fresh. I think it was smart of this reporter to use Google Web Alerts to find story ideas. It’s another tool that can bring little-known ideas to the forefront. However, like any tools, there are things journalists should be aware of when using Google Web Alerts.

Google Alerts can be a very helpful tool for journalists looking for fresh story ideas and scoops, but one must evaluate of the truthfulness of certain sources. In the Jim Morrison story, the writer added credibility to this rumor (and thus his story) by interviewing then-Governor Charlie Crist, Jim Morrison’s father and the fan who wrote the petition. If this had just been a one-source story, it wouldn’t be nearly as interesting as it is with the multiple sources.

I think this story is a good example of a well-written story that stemmed from a web alert. However, I think it was smart of the reporter to not take the website on face value. Rather than making a story out of the rumor, the reporter went to the man who wrote the petition, the Parole Commission and the governor himself. This story shows how useful these alerts can be but also how much work it takes to turn a mere idea into a story. By itself, a Web Alert isn’t a story. Journalists must navigate a certain amount of falsities and rumors to get to the really valuable stuff that good stories are made of. Google Web Alerts could only increase the occurrence of falsities and rumors that one must rifle through. and I’m not sure it’s worth the time and effort.

When considering the “Think Like an Editor” readings on structure quotes, the Google Alerts story is particularly interesting. The author uses quotes that add flavor to the factual information in the article. And like I stated earlier, the variety of sources brings depth to the story. Without it, the story would be little more than a rumor. By bringing in government agency sources like the governor and the Parole Commission, the reporter moves the story from just being about Jim Morrison to being a story that is more accessible and relatable to more readers

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