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Hypergene MediaBlog » Chris Anderson's vanishing point theory of news

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Thursday, 18 Jan 2007

Chris Anderson's vanishing point theory of news

Good metaphors are important because they can help you think about a problem in unexpected ways. The news business has been struggling to find new metaphors for what they do for years. From “computer-assisted reporting” to “civic journalism” to “p2p journalism,” the right metaphors have eluded them.

Chris Anderson, author of The Long Tail, offer another one: The Vanishing Point Theory of news.

“I finally came up with the right metaphor for a phenomenon we all experience: that our interest in a subject is in inverse proportion to its distance (geographic, emotional or otherwise) from us.

For instance, the news that my daughter got a scraped knee on the playground today means more to me than a car bombing in Kandahar.

Am I proud of this? No. But it’s true. ”

When we worked at newspapers it seemed like the Metro or Neighborhoods section was always the neglected stepchild. It never got the best stories because anything interesting always went to the front page.

Looking back, the papers we produced were always well-edited, sometimes clever and showed up on your doorstep every morning.

But the structure of the newspaper with its clear cut sections and editors jockeying to get their department’s story on 1A clouded the larger issue Anderson now brings up: We rarely covered anything that close to you - anything that interesting.

Posted on Jan 18, 2007 | 6:35 pm EST
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