Saturday, May 30, 2009

Business Decision

This is a couple of days old, but I meant to link to this bit from Froomkin:

But we’re hiding much of our newsrooms’ value behind a terribly anachronistic format: voiceless, incremental news stories that neither get much traffic nor make our sites compelling destinations. While the dispassionate, what-happened-yesterday, inverted-pyramid daily news story still has some marginal utility, it’s mostly a throwback at this point — a relic of a daily product delivered on paper to a geographically limited community. (For instance, it’s the daily delivery cycle of our print product that led us to focus on yesterday’s news. And it’s the focus on maximizing newspaper circulation that drove us to create the notion of “objectivity” — thereby removing opinion and voice from news stories — for fear of alienating any segment of potential subscribers.)

At this point I'm not sure how much stylistic tweaks matter relative to the structural/technology change and the recession, but it's nice seeing someone acknowledge that much of what journalists perceive as the standards of their profession, the "objectivity," was a business choice. Journalists are still wedded to this model even if it doesn't make financial sense anymore in part because they see it as The Way Things Should Be Done rather than something which was done to maximize circulation.