NewsDiffs Shows Changes Made to New York Times Articles After They’re Published

A project made at the Knight Mozilla MIT hackathon tracks changes in the paper of record using Github.

 Once I watched a news clip on CNN  of president Bill Clinton visiting some place in Africa. A crowd had greeted him not far from where his plane was. The crowd was big and from the back  began to surge forward as Clinton tried to shake hands with people within reach. People in the front began to fall under the surge and Clinton was catching falling people and helping them back up before his aides led him out of the immediate area. Later that afternoon CNN replayed the news clip and it was edited to look like when the front row of people began to fall, Clinton turned and RAN away immediately. I have seen this happen in the news time and time again and learned that the best time to catch the news was in the morning! Mainstream news doesn't get me down the block informed.

Back in October, the New York Times made substantial changes to a report about Occupy Wall Street protesters marching over the Brooklyn Bridge. Version one opened with: “After allowing them onto the bridge, the police cut off and arrested dozens of demonstrators.” Version two, edited just 20 minutes later, opened: “In a tense showdown above the East River, the police arrested more than 700 demonstrators from the Occupy Wall Street protests who took to the roadway as they tried to cross the Brooklyn Bridge on Saturday afternoon.”
The major changes drew criticism, as the question of whether the police had allowed the marchers onto the bridge was central to hundreds of disorderly conduct charges. The kerfuffle inspired former Times reporter Jennifer 8. Lee and sibling programmer duo Eric and Greg Price (the latter is formerly of Quora, now at Tddium) to build a site at a news hackathon at MIT this weekend that tracks changes made to Times stories using Github. “Diffing is a popular concept within computer programming, which outputs the differences between two files. It is typically used to show the changes between one version of a file and a former version of the same file,” the site says.
So far the app has turned up mostly minor but interesting differences. The strikethrough indicates words that were removed from the final version:
“as the winner of Egypt’s first
competitive presidential election”
“Singapore’s single-party
The fact that Syriza did not place first may make European leaders more likely to grant some concessions to Greece, but they also have to consider the larger economies of Spain and Italy, which are also under intense pressure.
Rodney King’s obituary had a slew of major changes, as the original version was incomplete.
NewsDiffs has started with the Times and CNN but may expand to cover more publications in the future.


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