War and gold and textboxes

Two stories, one in print and another online, caught my eye today as missed opportunities for alternative story forms. Here they are:

  • My morning newspaper included a wire story about U.S. involvement in Libya, specifically the balance of power between Congress and the president to wage war. The story mentioned the War Powers Act of 1973, but the story fell short in explaining this legislation, its origins and practical applications. This is a great opportunity to use a textbox to provide that history and context.
  • This afternoon, I noticed a Tweet about this story by the Los Angeles Times regarding a possible return to the gold standard. The article offers a good look at the issue in general, but it could benefit from a short timeline to show the history of the gold standard in the United States. Another possibility might be a “pros and cons” textbox summarizing the debate.

Both stories are a mix of partisan politics and complicated policies. That’s where editors can help readers cut through the posturing and understand the issues. Isn’t that our mission?