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Apr 8 / King Kaufman

PolitiFact editor on journalism: “We need to try new approaches”

All journalism nerds will get a lot from this Columbia Journalism Review interview with Bill Adair, the founder editor of the groundbreaking, Pulitzer Prize-winning fact-check website PolitiFact.

The occasion is Adair leaving his post as Washington bureau chief for the Tampa Bay Tribune, where he’s worked for 24 years, to become the Knight Professor of the Practice of Journalism and Public Policy at Duke University. Adair is also resigning as editor of PolitiFact, though he’ll remain as a consultant and contributing editor, the Times writes.

Most of the interview concerns the state of the “fact-checking movement,” which is certainly a vital topic, but what really caught my eye was Adair’s comment on another of his favorite topics, the future of journalism broadly:

I think we need to try new approaches. We’re living in a digital age when the Web and mobile devices have given us a new canvas to create different story forms, but journalism is largely stuck in the 20th century, relying on old-media approaches like the inverted pyramid news story. We need to try some new ways of telling stories and conveying information that really harness the power of our digital age.

There are a few evangelists who are doing this, such as Reg Chua at Thomson Reuters. But too much of our journalism is still being told the old way.

That idea is really at the center of Bleacher Report’s thinking as we try to redefine the idea of a “story” for today’s—for want of a better word—reader. With more people consuming content on mobile platforms, we’re creating more visually compelling, shareable content to go along with the more traditional text-based coverage.

As a writer, you have to ask yourself, as Adair is asking: Am I keeping up with how my readers want to be informed?