Explainer Articles: stories that sit outside of time

Mandy Brown has a great piece in Contents #1 titled Babies and the Bathwater.

It’s about “explainer articles”, stories from news outlets that are maintained and updated so they sit outside the flow of a story.  It’s a persistant on-ramp to a topic, like Wikipedia, but created by a news outlet.

This seems like a really interesting direction.  I’d love to see primers on rapidly changing topics or concepts, perhaps not just news, take this form.

As an example, Mother Jones has taken to publishing explainer articles that, well, explain a particular news story; the articles are continuously updated while the story progresses—so that a reader can enter at any point in the traditional news cycle and still understand what’s going on. The articles are crudely integrated—they don’t neatly fit into the editorial or design systems in place around them—but their value to the reader even in this early form is clear.


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