I’m sure I wasn’t the only media blogger who spent the day staring at Twitter, terrified that I’d miss news about the rumored Philadelphia newspapers sale. But whatever you’re doing, lend your free eyeball to Dan Levy’s piece about sports journalists — really, it’s all journalists — being “irrationally consumed” with breaking stories.
Levy asks several key questions, including whether two people can’t break the same story independently of one another, timestamps be damned, and if reporting on a press release early constitutes news-breaking at all. He blames Twitter, with its short feedback loop, for this insane pressure to plant a flag in a piece of news — not necessarily a story — a minute or two before your competitors.
All good questions, none of which are going to change anyone’s behavior. (Did I ever tell you about the time I beat Washington City Paper by one minute on a story about its newsroom? Wait, where are you going?) As more journalists work alone, at home, or in coffeeshops, that timestamp is a meager but necessary substitute for the congrats a whole newsroom used to dole out for a scoop.
One of his suggestions, though, I could totally get behind: “If a team supplies a press release for reporters to reference, it’s no longer necessary to credit the original reporter who was first on the story unless the breaking news created the need for said press release,” he proposes.
I wish I’d thought of that first.