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Is day-old news ‘fresh enough’?

Image of the word "Fresh" painted on a brick wall.

Padre Denny / Flickr

Seth Godin said so a while back:

If it’s important today, it will be important tomorrow. Far more productive to do the work instead of monitoring what’s next.

There’s truth in that statement, but it ignores news that’s delivered to people experiencing a news event rather than just consuming it.

I don’t need to know right away which direction a tornado in Alabama is headed if I’m in Seattle. But if I am in Alabama, and James Spann is telling me to get the hell out of the way, I can’t wait to hear about it.

What are your thoughts?

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  • Difficult issue. I personally think there’s room all over the spectrum, from live reporting to enterprise stories that take months to produce. Ideally, you’d be able to switch platforms as you go through reporting a story, starting e.g. with a tweet and then a short update on a blog and then maybe a story and in the weekend perhaps a dossier in the printed newspaper… but I’m not quite certain that that kind of approach works for *every* story. It’s about figuring out when what you’re doing is becoming noise to your readers, too, instead of added value.

    Wrote a bit about it a while back: http://stdout.be/2011/09/22/on-bundles-and-blobs/


  • I agree with you that you should switch platforms to suit different parts of the story (e.g. Twitter to break it, Facebook to generate discussion, WordPress to post a fleshed-out story, etc.). I don’t know if that’s necessarily what Seth Godin’s saying (it’s worth pointing out that he says “day old news is fresh enough” and is also “not active” on Twitter).

    I also like your discussion about bundles and blobs. The problem with any news seems to be that as we report it, it loses detail; a Day 5 story omits most of the information contained within the Day 2 story. It’s funny because one of the sites that does the best job of combating this is Wikipedia.

    Maybe that’s how we ought to start thinking about news: We go from Tweet, to blog post, to traditional newspaper/web story, to magazine-length report, to Wikipedia page, to … book?

    The only problem is, everyone has a jumping-off point, so every time you progress to the next platform and the next stage in the story, you lose X amount of people.

    Thanks for commenting!

  • Ah, my first sentence was the reply to Godin, the rest my reply to you :-) Like, I’m not going to complain about the New Yorker for being print-first and not very interested in audience interaction. I don’t think that’s the right approach for most media outlets but it works for them and they have some kick-ass journalism going on. WIRED has an amazing online presence but I really only read the monthly magazine, which by the way always arrives two weeks too late here in Belgium, so depending on their editorial calendar the reporting I’m reading is 4-6 weeks old. I don’t mind. And when I’m reading a day-old newspaper on the train, I don’t mind either. So in that sense, I do agree with Godin: there’s room all over the spectrum, even for day-old news.

    Now, the more interesting question is: when you stop hunting for breaking news, is there anything you can do with the time you’ve gained? Can you provide a service that is perhaps more valuable than breaking news to your audience if only they’ll humor you while you’re slow-cooking? Answer that, and you know what to do.

  • That’s a good question and it makes me wonder whether newsrooms need “breaking news reporters” where all they ever do is find breaking news and forward it to other departments.

    That’s pretty radical, though, (definitely more top-down than most newsrooms are used to) and potentially problematic because what’s “breaking” on one beat or niche may not be breaking overall.