By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

More isn’t better

There’s an upside and a downside to the fact that space on the Web is essentially limitless. It’s great that a news site like can be used to upload supplemental material such as audio, video, extra photos and original documents. But it’s not so great when someone decides that a tightly edited story in the print edition can undergo gasification on the Web.

To wit: This morning I was reading the online edition of the Times — ostensibly the print analogue — when I came across a disclaimer that accompanied a story about a video made just before a deadly protest last May in Uzbekistan: “This is an expanded version of the article that appeared in the print edition.”

Sure enough. I copied and pasted the online version into Microsoft Word, and it clocked in at 3,750 words. According to LexisNexis, the print version is just 2,949 words.

Extra stuff for those with the time and interest to peruse it is great. But please, let me read the basic story without having to plow through an extra 800 words.

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  1. Geoff Green

    Did you happen to notice any difference offhand? I’m curious if the material was interspersed within, or if the print edition simply cut out some paragraphs.

  2. Dan Kennedy

    Geoff — I have not gone to those lengths, pun intended.

  3. PRrag

    That’s the terrible beauty of the Internet…it’s given the rant a new life.

  4. another face at zanzibar

    Boy, if this was the only inconvenience you encountered today, I’d say you’re ahead of the game.

  5. Dan Kennedy

    Zanzibar: It is obviously not a big deal. But it is a problem if the Net’s limitless capacity leads to lazy editing. Right now, newspaper circulation is shrinking while Web readership is growing. Overwhelming Web readers with too much material is not the way to save the news business. I’m not sure why the Times did what it did today, but I hope it’s not a harbinger.

  6. Stella

    It would be interesting to learn the motive for the additional material. Did it enhance the piece? I mean, what’s the point?

  7. Anonymous

    It would be helpful for there to be some kind of visual indication as to what part of a story is web-exclusive. But let’s not forget that print stories are edited not only for ‘tightness’ but also to fit the news hole. And anyway, print is well on its way to extinction, so it’s doubtful these distinctions will be meaningful for much longer.

  8. informedbutamusedobserver

    Space is shrinking in newspapers, if the Web offers a way to give people more, and give the journalists a way to tell the complete story, then its a good thing. The Internet is sometimes a bit too easy for the intellectually lazy who want icons and quick-click, boiled-down summaries.Somehow I doubt that a bite-off is the New York Times copy desk way of editing for space, but it would be instructive to find out what they cut, moved or rewrote.Even so, I can now hear the right-wingers gearing up to call this some sort of communist plot; that those dastardly liberal conspirators are either a)making sure some of the most flaming liberal aspects of the piece are distributed to fellow travelers only through the Web or b)the dirty Times refuses to put material favorable to the right-wing point of view in the daily, so it gets cut.

  9. another face at zanzibar

    Dan, I guess I’ve solved this problem this way: I no longer read the print version. I’m 45–I grew up in a house that read several papers every day, so it was a hard thing to do. But we finally weaned ourselves off the Times last year and the Globe a few weeks ago. I do miss the ink all over my hands after Sunday breakfast with the Times.

  10. metallicaMobes

    Um, informedbutannoying, maybe you should lay off the kool-aid. Not everything to us right-wingers are conspiracies.

  11. Peter

    “Not everything to us right-wingers are conspiracies.”Right. For example, the 2000 and 2004 elections. NOT stolen by the GOP. Y’all agree on that, don’t youse?

  12. Anonymous

    Peter,Your take on the elections was as accurate as your grammar…

  13. peter

    Anonymous: The grammar was intentional — a reference to the hillbilly manner of speaking prevalent among so many on the right wing. Like, say, our president? Not the slightest sense of humour on some people..

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