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Dated news: Sentinel adds more context to social shares, archives
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Note: This story is more than 3 years old.

From the editor

Dated news: Sentinel adds more context to social shares, archives

  • The Prague Astronomical Clock is a medieval timekeeping device located in the capital of the Czech Republic.
    George M. Groutas/FlickrThe Prague Astronomical Clock is a medieval timekeeping device located in the capital of the Czech Republic.
  • Facebook shares of TucsonSentinel.com stories now include a publication year for reports from our archive, as well as a watermark of our logo.
    Facebook shares of TucsonSentinel.com stories now include a publication year for reports from our archive, as well as a watermark of our logo.
  • Archived stories on TucsonSentinel.com are now prominently labeled if they are from previous years.
    Archived stories on TucsonSentinel.com are now prominently labeled if they are from previous years.

We've all seen it: friends sharing dusty headlines about Trump or a celebrity obit from years ago. To help stop the spread of old news without any context, TucsonSentinel.com's adding year references to Facebook previews, and flagging archival stories on our site.

Let's face it: many people don't click and read before commenting on Twitter or Facebook, or mashing that "share" link. Even among those who do, many miss the dates on news stories. So the 2017 reports of the death of Roger Moore have been trending on social media the last few days, and many share news from the earliest days of the Trump administration as is it were the latest outrage (or triumph, depending on your point of view). As much as Facebook can inform and connect us, it can confuse and be misused as well.

Context matters, as do calendars and the march of time.

That's why TucsonSentinel.com has instituted some changes, to display that context more widely, and improve transparency and raise awareness about the relative dates of our deep archive of more than 24,000 news reports.

Inspired in part by our journalist colleagues at the Guardian, we're more prominently flagging archival stories on our site. We've always included clear publication dates and times on our stories — including noting when the last major update was made, and original publication timestamps. Now, stories older than a year include a label atop the headline; stories older than two years and those published more than three years ago are also labeled.

Additionally, we've added two bits of context to the previews of our work that appear on social media.

To make it more clear when reports are older, we're adding the year to a watermark on images on Facebook and Twitter when stories were published before the current year. Plus, as studies have shown that many people don't correctly attribute the source of information they get on social media, we're augmenting the URL and source info natively displayed by those platforms with a watermark of our logo on those images.

We hope this additional data will help our readers discern more context about our work, and trust that even more publishers will adopt such simple measures to increase transparency and accurate perceptions about the news.

While we hope that everyone is prompted to click and read every time they see one of our stories shared, we know that isn't always going to happen. Halting the spread of misconceptions is important; we're happy to play our part. But with other publications, please pay attention to not just where you're getting your news, but whether it's even "new" at all.

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