If you’re a good reporter, you’ve never had time enough to report and write all the stories you wanted. You never had time to cultivate all the sources you should. You constantly worried about not getting enough time to go in-depth on the biggest stories, and at most papers, you’ve fretted about the lack of news hole for your Pulitzer-worthy material.
The complaints certainly pre-date the web.
When I was a reporter at The Daily Californian we used to laugh at the San Diego Union and Evening Tribune reporters who complained about being overworked when they had to produce a whooping two by-lined stories per week, while we cranked out two or three a day, plus briefs, plus rotated obits and police and fire logs, and wrote for special sections and weekly features.
Our newsroom could have transitioned to the web easily because you couldn’t produce that much copy without learning to write and report efficiently and quickly.
And we still won our fair share of awards.
In today’s news rooms, you’ve got all the same complaints of twenty and thirty years ago about too many stories and not enough time, but you also have increased competition for your time and attention from the online edition. Editor and Publisher has a long piece on how news rooms are dealing with the changes in coverage.
There’s no doubt that journalists have more work to do and need to work more efficiently. And I’m sure there are more stories that don’t get done, or don’t get the knee-deep treatment they might have gotten in the past. But you know what, what else are we going to do?
There’s two aspects to an increased focus on the web. First, we may be fighting for our very survival; and, second, the web represents our single best opportunity to grow readership and grow revenue. If we want to get through this transition time, we better produce stellar web sites.
And that’s going to take all of us working together. It’s not going to be easy. But for those of us we care about protecting quality journalism, I don’t think we have any other choice. This isn’t the time to raise the white flag.
If you care, I think you will put far more effort into figuring out how to win in a turbulent media environment and far less time resisting the changes. But then, I’m a glass-half-full kind of guy anyway.
My optimism is spurred by the continuing double-digit growth of online revenue.
We’ll get there. It will be fine.