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It's Original Reporting or Nothing

April 16, 1912 New York Times

Ian Betteridge has blogged a couple times recently about the value of original reporting. Ian is one of those long-time journalists who has good common sense. I enjoy his missives about journalism and ethics and also changes new media has on the news media.

His thoughts on the value of original reporting are must-reads.

Ian is at it again—and spot on in his assessment:

One of the things that I’ve been pondering lately is whether it would be possible to do a news site devoted to a small, niche market which didn’t follow the usual norm of “cover everything in little depth.”

Instead, it might be possible to do few stories, but high quality ones—two or three stories per week which really dug under the skin of a topic, getting real exclusives. In other words, do real reporting rather than rewriting everyone else’s stories.

I agree. It’s the way of the future; perhaps the only future for many journalists, and even new media bloggers. A niche-sized publication doing real, original reporting and extending that through a social community of readers can succeed. The community can participate and shape the process.

My old employer, like so many others, is obsessed with SEO; that is search engine optimization. It’s what I call Search Engine Obsession. The flawed theory: Posting more stories gets more pageviews, which means more advertising. Problem: Most of the news content across the Web begins to look the same and stories lose depth and originality, thus reducing their value to potential readers, advertisers or sponsors.

“Be original” is the motto for this era’s successful news organization, whether it’s one person or one hundred. In this era of search engine obsession. Original reporting and new news media go oddly together.

Do you have a story of questionable ethics that you’d like told? Please email Joe Wilcox: joewilcox at gmail dot com.

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