San Diego staff good at getting it first, getting it right

Here’s a good piece on the success of’s break news team:

Team members confer with their editors frequently, but they often edit postings for each other, and they don’t wait for assignments or debate whether to head out for a promising story.

Karen Kucher, one of the original members of the team and an assistant editor, said, “Our default is supposed to be to go.”

And for those who think web-first publishing is somehow an affront to journalistic propriety:

Through its speedy postings, the team competes directly with TV, Baker said. “But we get it right, we don’t run stuff that’s not confirmed yet, and we don’t sensationalize it.”

Greg Gross, who’s been in this business more than 30 years, said of the team’s work, “There were all sorts of uncertainties on the mechanics and maybe the wisdom of it. That has all faded away with amazing speed.”

And some might be surprised to learn that not only does this approach help grow audience, it is also journalisticly satisfying.

Mallory said, “I’ve never experienced more gratitude from readers for anything we’ve done in journalism than for the simple postings on the news blog, three or four paragraphs at a time, of reliable, confirmed information, sortable by area.”

With this kind of breaking news, readers care more about the information than the prose. As Gross said, “I don’t feel as if I’m writing or reporting for the ages . . . and much to my surprise, I’m fine with that.”

Somebody should send this piece to the cranky copy editors, or whatever other forum is out there where newspaper people spit bile at web publishing.

3 thoughts on “San Diego staff good at getting it first, getting it right

  1. I think those cranky copy editors’ point is there are stories that may have factual errors or poor math, let alone typos in the headline and copy. Thus, the story just needs to have another pair of eyes on them.

    I love Web-first stories, I’ve been doing it since ’94. But, there are plenty of stories I see that you can tell was not given the same scrutiny as the print material. Certainly the online readership sees the difference as they point out the mistakes in the stories hours before any copy editor has had a chance to see it. The credibility of the publication, whether its Web-only or tied to the print publication is called into question.

    How often in the good ol’ days of when it was only print and television, did the print-side reporters scoff at on-air reporting as being either all wrong, or missing the point all-together.

    There can be an exception, the urgency of getting information to the public, in the case of the recent fires in San Diego is one. The readership, in those cases, are more willing to accept typos, some inaccuracies, because they know that the information is more critical than the style. I don’t see the urgency non-emergency stories.

    Thanks for letting me play.

  2. Howard, when you refer to “the cranky copy editors, or whatever other forum is out there where newspaper people spit bile at web publishing” — who on earth are you talking about?

    If you can’t cite examples, then maybe it’s time for you to acknowledge your strawman for what it is, and advance to a more relevant perspective.

    Are you referring to people who are opposed to irresponsible publishing of half-baked rumor and gossip disguised as if it were a real news report? If so, do you consider that a synonym for Web publishing? If so, why? This is 2007, almost 2008. A lot of news orgs are publishing credible news on a Web-first basis.

    The argument is not Web vs. print. The argument is crap vs. real journalism. See the distinction?

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