Interesting thread on Twitter yesterday that started with this news…
… continued with this observation…
… and climaxed with this breathless reaction.
First off, it’s always sad these days to see announcements of mass layoffs in the media industry, both from a personal perspective and as well as what it means for the consumer. I’m in my twelfth year of blogging (I know) and if there’s one thing that experience has illuminated for me, it’s that college football beat writers are, without exception, an underappreciated lot. I don’t see how I could do what I do here at the blog without being able to rely upon their insight and effort. I hope that’s something I never have to contemplate.
That being said, it’s hard to see what’s so offensive about Staples’ observation. I’ve certainly done my fair share of wading through what SEC Country and Land of 10 have produced, even linked to them occasionally, and while I’ve found a respectable amount of original product there, there’s also been plenty of “according to” material generated at those sites. Not that there’s anything wrong with aggregating information (as long as credit is properly given, of course), but I can aggregate as well as the next guy; Twitter,
CSS RSS feeds and news services like Topix make that easy, once you know what you’re doing.
And if you’re making that part of your business plan as one way to generate steady quantity for the readership you want to reach, the risk you run is that it’s hard to monetize that over time. If I’m going to pay for online media, or visit regularly to generate ad revenue, there had better be plenty — hell, almost an exclusive amount — of original content and/or presentation. I expect insight and information for my hard earned coin and my attention. Passing on what a beat writer in a small college town writes about the local program provides neither, especially if I can go to the source for free.
As Andy noted, that’s not on the journalists. It’s on the editors and publishers who devised the business plans that forced the journalists down that path. Ignoring what your potential customers value is something you do at your peril, as Cox Media and its soon to be former employees have learned. Pointing out that sad reality is hardly reprehensible. Ignoring the lesson, though, is another story.