Thursday, April 16, 2009

the death of the scoop

Jon Friedman of MarketWatch writes here about one of the (many) changes in journalism wrought by the internet age: the end of the scoop, or the short shelf life of the "great get".

He also has a prediction about the fourth value the digital bosses may soon use to measure the worth of individual news stories. Could be chilling: all celebs, all the time?

From his column:

In the old days -- way back in the late 20th century, before the Internet took hold -- a newspaper could celebrate a scoop for 24 hours. No more. Today, it lasts as long as it takes for an editor in another newsroom to press the "send" button, immediately matching the exclusive.

Then there is the business consideration. For many newsrooms, the process of getting a scoop may no longer be cost-effective. On the Web, a scoop may not be the most widely read piece on a site. That matters, as we move more toward a world of accountability. Often, media bosses determine an online story's success by how many clicks it attracted.

The Internet makes it possible for publishers and editors to measure a story's worth according to three criteria: most read, most emailed and most reader comments generated.

As if this new reality of digital publishing isn't unsettling enough for a reporter or a columnist to ponder, coming soon to a Web site near you: The powers-that-be will clamor to add a fourth variable. They'll be measuring precisely how much time readers/consumers are spending on each individual story.

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