Saturday, September 6, 2008

Getting Inside the Newsmaking Loop

Military minds speak of getting inside the decision-making loop of the adversary: to know it, anticipate it and possibly disrupt it. The accelerating news cycle enables newsmakers to do the same. Here's what I mean:

Andy Stone is the capable press secretary for Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Calif. He pitched me persistently, but appropriately, about doing a story on a Sept 6 congressional hearing that Rep. McNerney had requested in Stockton. He convinced me, though the story I did played up the politics of the event,
I filed the story at about 2 pm Sept. 5, for use in the Sept. 6 Bee newspapers. The McClatchy DC bureau posted it on the bureau's web site about 3 pm Sept. 5. Within an hour, Andy had called me to comment on the story. And all of this, mind you, is happening a day before the story appears in the actual, you know, newspaper. In at least one other recent occasion, a similar thing happened in which the real-timer commenter alerted me to a mistake in the Web version that I was then able to correct for the print version.


Anonymous said...

Politicians became adept at media manipulation when they realized the media was not a monolithic whole. The relentlessly on-message Republicans are seemingly better at this than the Democrats, but this is only a relative advantage.

However, I think the really interesting questions here are why are the two McClatchy mediums out of synchronization, thus exposing you and your organization to news cycle interruption/manipulation? Are they competitors? Is one supposed to be Primary and the other Secondary? How does this impact your deadline issues? Your post indicates to me that you consider the Print medium to be primary, as you indicate your article was subject to comments before it actually appeared in Print. Does this view actually make sense in today's the competitive multi-media publishing environment?

Anonymous said...

Great points.
In part, I come to this environment as a daily print guy: the dead-tree paper has always been my focus. In fact, I always said I never wanted to be a wire service reporter, for whom minute-by-minute speed was all. Hence, as you acutely observe, my implicit belief that the print version of the story is the one that matters.
Now, we do wear two hats, and the tasks are not aligned. Or, at least, two distinct goals arise: to be first online, and to be best in print. Which, in turn, suggests to me the print version does need to be qualitatively different; for instance, with more analysis.Some reason, in other words, for a reader to pick up the daily paper even if it comes out 24 hours after the 'news' passes.