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Why are news sites pinning old stories near the top?

Something curious is going on online. You’ll be scrolling down for news on the Nation website, or the Standard’s or People Daily.

Suddenly, fresh news will be interrupted by very old news -sorry, old news is not news. You’ll be interrupted by an old story.

But why do they do that?  Why do they pin some stories permanently near the top? Is it deliberate or is it a design glitch?

Take a look.

  • People Daily, December 24: “Pope Francis chooses final resting place”

Dead popes are traditionally buried inside St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City. Pope Francis, media reported, has picked the Basilica of St John Lateran, which is outside the Vatican, to be buried in when he dies. Sure, that was huge news. But why is it sitting near the top four months since PD published it?

  • The Standard, March 9: “Work harder! Oriole Brown says there’s no international artist in East Africa”

When we pulled this story, the date stamp read, 13 days ago. But this is inaccurate. Which reminds us of another design problem that the Standard refuses to fix. After 24 hours it’s near impossible to tell when the Standard published a story. Dates should be fixed. But the Standard designed a dating system that lets the computer display, based on its internal calendar, how long ago a story was posted online.

The result is that the computer, whether the one in your smartphone or a traditional desktop, now tells you approximately how long a story has been up, not the actual date it was posted. It’s just bad. Accuracy, a cardinal journalism rule, is lost right there at the top of an old story. Still, what is Otile Brown’s story still doing near the top of news weeks since it was published?

  • Nation: “Asia’s richest family hosts a star-studded ceremony for son’s wedding” (March 1); “The Ogiek Community – looking back home; In pictures” (March 7); “Haiti in turmoil” (March 11)

All three old stories are posted one after the other, just after the latest news on the Nation online. Why?

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