Comments:University of Chicago's Mansueto Library suffers power outage
|Comments from feedback form - "Is this article really newswor..."
|12:15, 5 June 2011
|16:50, 1 June 2011
In my opinion, no. I wouldn't have passed it. It's a power cut, big deal. It came back, and nothing of value was lost.
No, I would not call it newsworthy, nor can I figure out why it appears under the news in the science portal.
I admit that it has an element of "Small-earthquake-in-China-no-one-hurt" and I probably would not have passed it if I had been the editor. In fact the only reason I did read it was that I was curious to see what it contained that justified its inclusion. Answer: nothing really -- it is reminiscent of much of the news on TV, where not only is everything that any celeb does covered as news, but so is the sight of the gate where an associated vehicle might or might not appear some time soonish, that might or might not be carrying the celeb.
So who are we to be picky?
OK, I suggest that we work a bit on the yawn factor, but OTOH, an aspect of this story does give me cold chills; I am increasingly worried about how infrastructurally dependent we have become. It not only shows how helpless we are every time a lift (elevator for the trans-Atlantics) gets stuck, or a train loses signal power, but every time a nuclear power station loses coolant. The things we take for granted are hair raising. A correspondent told of how a girl colleague when Titanic was located on the sea floor, asked why people hadn't sent out Boeings to rescue the passengers and crew (well, just the technical aspects of that one are a bit gob-smacking, but...) He pointed out to her that this had happened in 1912. She says: "So?"
Now, that was an apparently expensively-educated first-world young adult. What sort of news items was she equipped to understand at all? I wonder how many people in that library had a clue about what was going on, how power could fail, or why, or how many aspects of the library's operation were designed to deal with such minor factors.
Which amounts to how much more than nothing, in terms of newsworthiness? That is arguable, but it is a pretty poor news consumer who cannot take the trouble to get something out of whatever he has invested reading time in. Such as this comment for example.
If it lasts long enough, a power outage actually can have a crippling effect on a university, especially if it occurs at a library in which all of the books are accessible only through automated systems. Students and faculty can't do their research in a timely manner, and library staff would have to work extra hours either retrieving the materials from the basement by hand or filing extra requests for books from other libraries.
None of these issues were reflected in the article... and the power outage lasted only 2 hours. I'd expect this story on a local mailing list, but not on Wikinews.
Wikinews:Content guide doesn't prohibit the more localized news, though. And qualified editor has already looked at the article and approved it, so Wikinews seems to think it's ok... :/
But then again, the "Content Guide" does say that the significance of local news needs to be explained more fully to the international audience that Wikinews writes for. Perhaps I didn't do that quite well enough :(
I'm more surprised that they just spent $81m on a new library. It is a private university, I suppose, and since it's run like a corporation it shouldn't have any trouble with funds... unlike public libraries, which are closing all over the country. Do they open their membership to the public?