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What's wrong with the new Philly publication rule? Us and them

Submitted by yelvington on August 8, 2008 - 8:00am

Philadelphia Inquirer managing editor Mike Leary says the paper is "adopting an Inquirer first policy for our signature investigative reporting, enterprise, trend stories, news features, and reviews of all sorts. What that means is that we won't post those stories online until they're in print."

Instant reaction by the online crowd was predictable; Jarvis went ballistic.

Holding routine features, trend stories and reviews seems pointless and counterproductive, but holding exclusive stories for simultaneous publication is not always a bad thing. That's not the real problem here.

Our job is to serve the public, not advance one medium and oppose another.

A publication plan for "signature investigative reporting" should be one that's designed to bring the largest possible group of people into the strongest possible engagement with that piece.

That might require holding the BFD for simultaneous publication in print and online. It might require teasing and setting the stage with advance components, some of which might appear in only one medium.

And it might require tailoring the online and print presentations into different, complementary pieces. It's entirely possible that the print and online components might be completely different with some parts being print-only.

And the whole process might work best if writers use beatblogging techniques to work the territory during the reporting process.

But you can't do that if you regard one medium as yours and the other as theirs. And that's the real problem with the Leary's memo.

In his memo, Leary wrote: "We'll cooperate with philly.com, as we do now ...." Well, gee. That's so nice of you. Us and them, the great divide.

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UPDATERyan Sholin has an interview with Chris Krewson, Executive Editor, Online/News at the Inquirer, with details.

Comments

There are so many complementary ways to work together on enterprise, exclusives, trend stories and the like--across various platforms. It seems a bit sad and somewhat backwards that "that" is not the focus. How can we better serve our audience and work together in a more creative way to catapult our content's reach? That's an open forum I'd like to attend. This brings back bad memories from my newspaper days and the hard work it took to get editors to work with our news partners.

Okay, I've had more time to think about my last comment. Now, I'm wondering if this is the attempt to make the newspaper full of original content that isn't so easily found on the web and therefore rebuilding the interest that so many are losing or have already lost. I've read lots of blogs about this scenario and spoken with many colleagues about newspapers focusing on doing what they do best and essentially getting out of the breaking news race.

Hi Steve. Thanks for weighing in on this. You've hit on a great truth about Philadelphia Media Holdings - namely that in our case, unlike in nearly every other newspaper in the country, it really is us and them. It's two newspapers - The Inquirer and the Daily News - and Philly.com, which is a separate operation housed in a separate building more than half a mile away and 30-odd floors up. This creates all kinds of interesting issues, not least of which is that it becomes even more important for folks in the newsrooms and Web producers to over-communicate, as we're also not a small organization. With that said, our goal - in both newspapers, and on philly.com - is to grow audience. We all want a successful Web site. We all have different roles to play to reach that goal. In this case, the blogosphere got hold of a small change in our internal policy - basically don't post feature-y enterprise stories before they run in the paper, and don't post the full draft of your story or column before it gets edited - and made a mountain out of what's likely an established policy at other, smaller papers. Anyway, thanks for responding with such a good eye. Best, Chris Krewson Executive Editor, Online/News The Philadelphia Inquirer

I'm wondering if this is the attempt to make the newspaper full of original content that isn't so easily found on the web and therefore rebuilding the interest that so many are losing or have already lost. I've read lots of blogs about this scenario and spoken with many colleagues about newspapers focusing on doing what they do best and essentially getting out of the breaking news race.

The right to free speech is conflicted by the editors who have their own agenda....some comments although vehement are not to the liberal side of your papers....so we need to back the Bulletin and stop paying for the Inq and Daily News...will that get your attention?????