[LINK] A strange impact on politics, of the Information Age

Richard Chirgwin rchirgwin at ozemail.com.au
Sat Feb 25 20:14:14 AEDT 2012

On 25/02/12 4:21 PM, David Boxall wrote:
> <http://www.canberratimes.com.au/opinion/political-news/we-need-to-talk-about-kevin-20120224-1ttxx.html>
>   >  ...
>> Strangely, the information age seems to have made grasping the truth of things harder. The shrinking of the broad base of political parties, their failure to tell stories that inspire and ring true, the increasing lack of penetration of the serious media, the rarity of deep analysis told in a compelling way, the 60-second YouTube videos  ...
Going back on-thread. One thing I have learned working for The Register 
is this: many of the people who concentrate on 
must-be-first-on-Google-News are making a mistake.

If you have a big story, it could be good for readers for two or three 
days. It doesn't have to be politics; I'm more familiar with how CERN 
Higgs-Boson stories run, so I will stick with that.

The fist-of-the-first stories will be as thin as anything, but they will 
be The First. OK: I have fallen for the siren song of being the person 
who breaks the story myself.

However, they may not be the most-read. Alternatively, the hits you get 
from being "first" don't mean "nothing left for someone later". If you 
squeeze down on the must-be-first impulse, and instead try and find 
something extra that's worth the readers' time, the penalty may still 
leave you enough readers to keep advertisers happy. I have written some 
science stories in 2012 that have broken the million-reader mark, and 
none of them were firsts.

In other words: the "first of first" is, in my increasingly settled 
opinion, a relic of print deadlines. If The Australian hits a story on 
Monday and the Herald misses it, then it gets the circulation and the 
Herald doesn't. But on the Internet, it doesn't work the same way; the 
reader that clicks on "Higgs Boson" on a syndicated Associated Press 
announcement on Monday is perfectly likely to come back to The Register 
for a more complete story on Tuesday.

I suspect that the insular atmosphere that still pertains in an MSM 
newsroom doesn't encourage "hold off for something better", because the 
winnowing of bad habits takes a long time ... however, over time, people 
will rediscover the value in patience.


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