And it isn’t as though we in the media industry aren’t aware, we just choose to internalize it and wrestle with it for hours during sleepless nights: where do we stand against in-depth reporting when we live in a 140-character world?
“Consumers want their information fast (and yet accurate) and attractively packaged,” Jim Romenesko, a journalist and owner of the journalism blog Jimromenesko.com, wrote in an email. “They want at least some of it to be strong on attitude.”
Let’s address fast and accurate.
Romenesko points out that some news organizations, in the rush to post, “simply run with comments/observations from one person.”
The SCOTUS’ ruling of Obamacare as constitutional ushered foul-ups within CNN and the Chicago Sun-Times when reporting the 5-4 decision, something that can arguably be click baiting, the former reporting the opposite of the ruling and the latter posting prep copy the night before.
So what we see is less vetting, more regurgitation.
Fast, certainly. Accurate, sometimes not.
Mashable and Business Insider provide thousands of viewers a month with short articles on big news, updating their sites with different posts in what could be a push toward SEO techniques for generating more hits.
“Those sites often rewrite and try to ‘polish’ what others have done. Others can concentrate on original reporting and multiple sources,” Mr. Romenesko wrote.
It’s a worrisome time for journalists and publishers alike, and that’s saying the least.
Though there are many aggregators in the industry (Romenesko acknowledges that he has been one for years, often keeping summaries three sentences or less while also giving “the story the space it deserves.”), one notable company has moved from aggregation to long-form journalism while delivering attractive, accurate and Pulitzer-winning pieces for a digitally savvy audience.
The Huffington Post announced the release of their eMagazine “Huffington” last month in a move that shows some promise for the endangered long-form journalism — the very reason many of us became journos (see: Woodword and Bernstein). The release proved that though a company started with retweeting, reposting and reblogging others’ content, digital publications can and will redefine and pursue more than bulleted information in lieu of higher Google ratings.
“I’ve heard almost all of my career that we’re headed towards a journalism world where everything is bite-sized,” Romenesko wrote. “But I’ve learned that there are readers who want a full meal — and there will always be publications that will feed them.”Contact Kenneth Rosen.