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  1. A lot of newspapers and online news outlets seem to do this. I know the web site for my hometown newspaper does, and I’ve had stories I’ve linked to on my blog change out from under me a couple of times.

    Sometimes it seems to be updating to the latest AP version of the story or incorporating wire corrections. While it’s annoying, I’m not sure how excited I can get about it.

    There are also limits to how excited I get about people editing their blog. There are better and worse kinds of edits, and clearly it matters a lot more if someone who’s using political or tech blogging as a professional stepping stone does it than if a teenager edits out the name of an old crush.

    But a lot of the excitement around blog editing makes assumptions about the meaning of blogging that I’m not sure I share. Not being a blog triumphalist–it’s a tool and a form, not a movement–I worry less than triumphalists do about meeting so-called big-j journalism standards, which it now seems journalists may not meet.

  2. Yeah… hm. I guess I care from the perspective of someone who comments on news stories; when the news story changes without notice, it means I’m commenting on something that nobody else can see. It makes me feel a little like I’m talking to an invisible guy in the corner.

    So I don’t think it’s a breach of ethics or anything. It’s just a convenience issue.

  3. It concerns me – much more than blog edits concern me – but I think it’s the way things are going to work from now on, and I don’t think there’s anything to be done about it. I imagine if they could do it in print media, they would. The issue doesn’t even occur in broadcast media – who there’s no necessary connection between this hour’s broadcast and last hour’s – even if they happen to be identical. And that seems to be how they’re approaching the web – as a second-by-second broadcast, subject to change at any time. It’s not how I want the web to be viewed, but they’re not my servers.

  4. Another thing that occurs to me about the news story issue is that many outlets are going to pay archives, which 404s the story under your link anyway.

    If we accept linkrot as part of the nature of the web (not a good part, but a part nevertheless), I think we’re stuck accepting edits. In that way, I have to effectively or at least practically agree with the principle that kodi rejects: web stories are more like news broadcasts than printed books.

    As a server owner, I can see the financial reasons for doing this, too. Eventually you do start running out of hard disk space, and access to old items can crowd out new ones. What’s worth saving is an unfortunately necessary financial calculation for news sites.

  5. I think I’ve figured out what gets under my skin about this. It’s not obvious that, when citing a website, one needs to timestamp the citation to the minute – but if journalistic websites persist in modifying instead of just expiring links, that’s what needs to be done. Broadcast media is obviously broadcast media. The web is a hybrid, and it’s easy to forget the broadcast aspect.

    On the plus side, CNN and the BBC do currently timestamp their website articles to the minute. BBC claims it’s the “last updated” time, while CNN more ambiguously describes it as “posted” – does an edit count as a post? Does CNN edit? Can’t remember. I particularly like The Washington Post’s approach to this (Yay! I get to say something nice about The Washington Post for once) – they timestamp newsfeed articles, and give page references for pieces that come directly from the paper. The other papers I’ve surveyed don’t even make it clear whether the non-newsfeed pieces are coming from the paper or are online only; I assume they’re all parroted from the paper.

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