There is really no other way to put it. Just throw The Donald into a headline and you’ll see the number of eyeballs, impressions, unique visitors, etc., soar.
That’s why I was mildly excited when my friend Joe Gruters, chairman of the Sarasota GOP, shared with me — before anyone else in the new or traditional media — that Trump would be giving the keynote address at the Statesman of the Year Dinner at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel on August 26 a day before the Republican National Convention begins in Tampa.
I blogged, Facebooked and Tweeted about this, I believe, before any other outlet did. Perhaps I was beaten to the story by someone else, but I doubt it. Christian Ziegler, who works with the Sarasota GOP, even thanked me on Facebook for being first to post about the event.
Yet, SaintPetersBlog, received no credit from traditional media. Why not?
I suppose one reason for this sin of omission is that invitations for the event went out a couple of days after I first wrote my post and, theoretically, some media outlets wrote their stories based on that information. But there were a lot of media outlets, which never spoke to Joe Gruters, never spoke with anyone at the Sarasota GOP, had not seen the invitation (because it had not been sent), which simply cut-and-pasted my story, moved around a few words and “re-reported” the news without attribution.
But the truth is, I really don’t care. This is the big evolution for me, personally, as executive editor of this blog. I once cared so fiercely about receiving proper credit from the Tampa Bay Times and the Tampa Tribune and other media outlets for stories which originated on my blog.
But no more. It’s not that proper attribution isn’t important. It’s just no longer as important to me. I take great, great comfort knowing that my economic model is working, as evidenced by the volume of ads on this site, while, as the New York Times’s David Carr writes, “it’s clear that the print newspaper business, which has been fretting over a looming crisis for the last 15 years, is struggling to stay afloat.”
My thoughts about scoopage were prompted by the recent rant of Amy Sullivan about news organizations’s race to be first.
“I know I’m often out-of-the-loop when it comes to journalism norms and conventions, but this one honestly confounds me. Has any publication ever received a Pulitzer for being the first to report a major announcement? Is there some secret reward at stake—free cookies for a year? A trip to Hawaii? Do colleagues buy you a drink to congratulate you on beating the other networks by ten seconds? Because if this is just about bragging rights, it needs to stop. Now. And not just because it can lead to some outlets rushing to report incorrect information, as CNN and FOX did with the recent Supreme Court decision on health care reform. But because the race to be first is no longer just a feature of news coverage but often the main factor driving it.”
It’s almost as if Sullivan doesn’t understand the n-e-w portion of the word ‘news.’
Of course, as with all things involving a meta discussion about journalism, Sullivan’s non-Beale moment elicited a fierce response from her colleagues. Andrew Sullivan (see, attribution) cataloged them:
Ben Smith, tried to keep it practical:
Scoops matter, in part, because they are typically a product of being deeply sourced in your beat, and good beat reporters get them almost as a by-product of good beat reporting. Being first to report the Supreme Court ruling isn’t a scoop, technically — it’s just a matter of conveying information accurately and efficiently, which is also our job. Bloomberg deserves credit for being right and first. That isn’t easy, as other outlets showed. This doesn’t mean great explanatory reporting — or for that matter, great poetry — don’t matter. That’s a false choice. But often the great explanatory reporting comes from people whose deep connection to their beat also gives them a steady stream of scoops.
After the ACA ruling, Jeff Jarvis offered a different theory:
The real lesson here is that the scoop is and always has been a dangerous act of journalistic narcissism. Did it truly matter if one outlet “broke” the same information that other outlets — and the world of the internet — knew a second before another? Or was it indeed worse when those outlets got it wrong because they were hasty and stupid? They were still seduced by the scoop, which has no value in media that operates at the speed of the link. Journalists must think how they can best add value to information, not how they can most rapidly repeat it. Explaining the story is adding value. Getting it wrong detracts value and devalues credibility.
Alexandra Petri took a wider view:
Certain kinds of news are impossible to break to anyone. Big Events Happening In Real Time. These days, some of the people are watching all of the time. We are all watching the same things through slightly different windows, some affording more colorful views than others. Breaking News may be broken, but it’s not cracked so much as it is splintered into thousands of smaller pieces. And some of those splinters — Scotusblog, Bloomberg, to name just two — actually manage to get the news right the first time around.