Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Two smart proposals and one bad example of the problem.

Newspapers' supply-and-demand problem (Why you should quit doing what everyone else is)

Consider a scenario: Newspaper A posts a local scoop to its website. The story is picked up by other news organizations. It's rewritten, repackaged, sent out on wires, and within hours that story or some version of it — sans additional reporting — is on a hundred different websites. Much of this duplication is automatic, but some of it is done by human editors. (See Google News any day for an example of this.) Best-case scenario, a few of those sites actually link back to Newspaper A.

Now let's say most of the duplication stops. Because there are fewer versions of the story, more eyeballs now find their way to the original scoop on Newspaper A's site. Good. But aren't many of these additional eyeballs just single-page, out-of-market visits that have little value to advertisers? Maybe, but if Newspaper A is sticking to its core mission of covering local news, it will be able to deliver an audience that's more cohesive on the whole — and therefore more sellable — than if its content is all over the map

Journalism is the business of building communities - so newsrooms must hire from within those communities

That, I think is where so many news organizations have failed over the past generation. In a drive to professionalize the journalism industry (and, then, to cut costs), we've cut our publications off from the communities they are supposed to represent.

This post might have been written as an illustration of that point.

What's your dream? Season tickets.

It drips with condescension and veiled contempt for the people of Pittsburgh. It is something you expect to read in the Boston Globe or an alt-weekly in a latte-town The only reason it caught my eye was that it was written by a columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Yeah, that's the way to build your brand and connect with your audience. Hire people who think your subscribers are a bunch of conformist cowards who prefer mediocrity to excellence.

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