Ever since the first online editor e-mailed to the newsroom a Top 10 list of the most read stories on the web site, the debate has raged:
- Why do readers want the sensational stuff?
- Are we in danger of letting reader stats dictate coverage?
There has always been an underlying conflict in journalism — readers complain about sensationalism, but accidents, crimes, natural disasters and gossip help sell papers and spike TV ratings. On the web, we just get to witness the conflict in real time. Journalists want to be high minded, but they also want an audience.
Adam Reilly notes that the dueling values of readers and journalists are epitomized on one story on Boston.com: Tom Brady’s love child. Readers complain, but it’s also the most e-mailed story on the site. Umm …
(Via Dan Kennedy)