Posts Tagged ‘print first

08
Aug
08

Print first, think later

Buzzmachine takes note today of the new tack ordered at the ailing Philadelphia Inquirer. Put everything in print first. That will shore up the falling subscriptions at the financially free-falling newspaper.

Here is what the memo from the Inquirer managing editor says:

Colleagues – Beginning today, we are adopting an Inquirer first policy for our signature investigative reporting, enterprise, trend stories, news features, and reviews of all sorts. What that means is that we won’t post those stories online until they’re in print.

This isn’t about the rush to be first, as some commenters at Buzzmachine have suggested. This is about establishing a clear policy that the dead trees edition trumps all. Problem with those blanket statements is that they tend to stand in the way of a thoughtful decision-making process.

Here is what might be a better policy to establish — we will determine, beginning with the assignment of every story, whether it would work best in print, with photos, as video, including graphics or any combination of those things. We will likewise decide, as each story nears completion whether it should break first in print, online or in some other fashion. We won’t put print ahead of online or vice versa because putting the audience and the story first will eventually serve us better than any arbitrary decision-making process.

By simply deciding paper comes first, they are betting they can help themselves by forcing people to buy the paper in order to get the story. Parents eat their own children, story at 11. (Me, I love it when TV does that. I always stay tuned.) First they better hope their “investigative reporting, enterprise, trend stories, news features, and reviews” are very, very compelling. Else-wise, would-be readers will simply shrug and look at something else. Evidence also is this is a pretty bad time for them to be making such a gamble. If they are wrong they are likely gone.

You would think the “brains” at newspapers would be past this type of thinking at this point. But I just had a long conversation with a long-time newspaper man at my place who still thinks we just need to wait out this “perfect storm.” Once classified comes back and the real estate market turns around then those with the patience to weather this little “down-turn” will be sitting pretty. Yeah, that’s a good plan, too.