Tallahassee Democrat sends business digest with 10-day-old “news”

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Immediacy is what the Internet does best, especially when it comes to providing users real-time data and news. With Facebook, Twitter, and other social media, the online world excels at bringing information to the public at near lightning speed.

Maybe, the Tallahassee Democrat did not get that memo.

In its December 17 business news digest to online subscribers, the Democrat – a Gannett company – featured four top news stories. The lead was Congresswoman-elect Gwen Graham, who made Tallahassee her first stop in a multi-city jobs tour. Others included a report on a Leon County forum on entrepreneurship, a discussion about having faith in data backups, and how upset customers will go out of their way to harm a business.

Each story appears to be on a timely subject of interest to Democrat readers. Seemingly.

However, calling some of them “timely” might be a stretch, since most of those stories are no less than nine days old.

Consider this; if those stories were cartons of milk, they would be well past the expiration date, surely not something a legitimate business would allow customers to consume.

For example, Gwen Graham began her jobs tour with business leaders in Tallahassee on Monday, Dec. 8 – nine days before online readers received the news. The Leon County forum on entrepreneurship also took place on Dec. 8.

Dec. 10 is the date on Jerry Osteryoung’s op-ed on exceeding customer expectations.

The lone exception is another opinion piece by Blake Dowling, which posted Dec. 17.

And the “Day in Pictures” feature highlights a photo of a residential and retail project that opened on Aug. 28.

In journalism, there is an ongoing debate over getting it first versus getting it right – and the value of reporters who bring accurate, timely news, particularly in an efficient manner. Littering the modern Internet landscape are organizations that have failed to deliver on promises – to give its customer base a good product they can actually use.

The Tallahassee Democrat (and its corporate masters at Gannett) would do well to heed one simple canon of journalism: 10-day-old stories may be many things, but they are rarely considered “news.”

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Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.