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Packaging news is as important as reporting

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Photo of iPod shuffle package

Credit: JackSim / Flickr

 

Journalists who complain about being quoted and linked to probably need to do a better job of selling their own journalism.

 

I’m reminded of a quote I pulled from the Steve Jobs biography last week:

[Steve] Jobs and his engineers significantly improved the graphical interface ideas they saw at Xerox PARC, and then were able to implement them in ways that Xerox never could accomplish. For example, the Xerox mouse had three buttons, was complicated, cost $300 apiece, and didn’t roll around smoothly; a few days after his second Xerox PARC visit, Jobs went to a local industrial design firm, IDEO, and told one of its founders, Dean Hovey, that he wanted a simple single-button model that cost $15, “and I want to be able to use it on Formica and my blue jeans.” Hovey complied.

In other words, if you write a 3,000-word piece and just dump it online, and then some blogger comes along, reads your post, synthesizes it into 400 words and links to it, and that post becomes more popular than your original piece, don’t complain. If anything, take a page from the blogger book: Why did their post do so well? What could yours have done to make itself more viral? What can you do in the future?

 

Some journalists may not like it, but the packaging is often as important as the product. Be good at both.

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