Jonathan Stray reminds us of an excellent point:
New Media journalism should be thought of as a product that people use, not as collection of stories or other pieces.
In particular, he argues:
- The value of journalism can only be assessed in connection with how people use it …
- … and their lack of enthusiasm about New Media news is a warning sign.
- Technology and form factor matter; imitating old media is likely not the best way to go.
- Personalization and targeting need to be a lot better. In particular:
- What’s most important is getting stories to the people who are likely to want to act on what’s in them. The true value of journalism lies in informing people’s choices and actions. (By contrast, he seems to denigrate the other main benefits of news, which are pure entertainment and/or the facilitation of social interaction.)
- It’s OK and natural that the people inclined to act — on a given story or indeed at all — are only a small fraction of the overall population.
I am in vehement agreement with much of what Stray has to say, although I think he understates the importance of general knowledge and the often serendipitous benefits of pursuing same. For example:
- I tend to assume that what we write affects people’s choices by supporting their informed judgments.
- I think it is neither necessary nor acceptable to let investigative reporting wane.
- I have witheringly negative opinions about vacuous “news.”
And I indeed try to practice what Stray preaches. Most of my own posts — especially when you weight them by length and/or time spent researching and writing them — are designed to help at least some people make on-the-job decisions.
- I do just mean “help,” the assumption being that people read my work as part of a general research process.
- That lots of you read more for general interest or education is great. I suspect you still like the standard of quality to which I aspire, namely that what I write should in most cases actually be informative even to people who have reason to be well-informed in the area already.