News story subscription: good idea?

The internet promotes transience.

Everything is now on-demand.  We can access whatever we want, wherever we want (give or take), which means we flit from one thing to another, whether it’s between news stories, applications, sites.

I find this behaviour particularly troubling when it comes to news.  We read a story, or possibly a snippet of a story, show some brief empathy, and then invariably move on, our attention span defined by the time for which the news provider carries the story.

With the G20 protests, for example, there was reporting in the run-up to the event, followed by significant coverage during the event as police clashed with protesters.  There was a brief lull in reporting thereafter, until news surfaced of the man who suffered a heart-attack after being grounded by a policeman.  Several further stories of alleged abuse at the hands of police emerged over the subsequent days, after which the story seemed to come to a close.

There were no events thereafter that the BBC deemed worthy of a news article.  So the chapter is closed, for the time being at least.

I’m sure there are various investigations underway and that the IPCC is busy doing something in some offices somewhere.  But I don’t have any easy visibility into this until the next event that the news channels deem sufficiently significant.

I remember the same trend for the investigation into the death of Jean Charles de Menezes.  There were brief periods of reporting interrupting long periods of silence.  The sporadic reporting pattern is also common for crimes that have an ensuing trial, with subsequent sentencing.

It would be great if I could “subscribe” somewhere to news stories in which I’m interested and see a timeline of things that have happened, and things that are due to happen, newsworthy or otherwise.  I’m thinking of some visual timeline similar to that seen in Google Finance, key points being highlighted and clickable.  Perhaps Twitter has a role to play in identifying historic times at which significant events occurred.  And in a Wikipedia-style, maybe enthusiasts could be responsible for writing, and self-policing, the future timeline.  (Another nail in the newspapers’ respective coffins.)

Does such a service exist?  Would there be a market for one?

Comments

2 Responses to “News story subscription: good idea?”

  1. Greg Baker on September 27th, 2009 13:10

    I find a carefully worded and defined Google News alert to satisfy this need. It’s not perfect but a nice brief summary of the latest ‘hits’ in my email daily/weekly/when results appear is useful.
    Obviously with this service we are limited by the sources Google scours for its Google News service, but better than nothing!

  2. SLATFATF on October 9th, 2009 16:29

    As a google and all things online medi king I thought you would know about

    http://newstimeline.googlelabs.com/

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