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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Finished? No, it's the story so far

Shane Richmond (the Telegraph's Communities Editor) does a good job revisiting the issue of what 'finished' looks like in the fast-paced world of digital publishing.

In print, a story wasn't published until it was 'finished': written, edited, edited again, sub-edited, sub-edited again, proofread and so on. Only then did we hit 'send' and hand it over to the printers - at around 9.30pm, the deadline for the first edition of a daily newspaper.

But, as Shane points out, it wasn't so much that the story was 'finished', more that it was "as good as it could be" at the time the print deadline rolled around.

"The years of habit, the mere notion of a final edition, have created the illusion that news stories can at some point be considered finished," he says.

"All we ever do when we publish a newspaper is run out of time. Given more time there would always be more to add to a story, more angles to pursue and newer stories to find space for. We can never be completely correct, only as correct as possible in the time available. We check as much as we can but we still get it wrong sometimes, all of us.

"The internet removes the time barrier. Without it, we never stop, and still we're never completely right. But everything can be changed. Publish what you know now; learn more, add more. It's never finished and it's never completely right."

Worth a read. As ever.