Newspaper bloggers: to scoop or not to scoop

Mark Glaser’s latest column for OJR is about newspaper columnists who have “official” blogs and tensions between releasing news or opinion on the blog or holding it for the paper. There’s a lot of interesting discussion on Dan Weintraub’s California Insider blog as well as some commentary from Dan Gilmour.

While, as Glaser points out, current newspaper bloggers usually save big scoops for the print edition (unless they’re trying to beat a TV report), the trend will most likely move the other direction, as more and more papers move more emphasis to the websites.

Getting the news out quickly (especially in the case of breaking news) will be increasingly important. Where the newspaper will shine over the TV station or radio, however, is with the analysis and commentary the next morning (and afterwards, if the story warrants). TV and radio news just keeps moving on to the next thing, not stopping for any in-depth coverage. TV news coverage is often laughably shallow.

But, where newspapers are reluctant to go is to a model where the breaking news and initial reports are posted quickly (though not hastily) to the website and then really beefing up the analysis and commentary in the print edition.

Sure, there will be times that the paper has a huge scoop that gets held for the print edition, and that’s fine. But for the day-to-day news that every news outlet in the area is going to have, going to the web first could be a win-win situation for the paper: (1) they would see an increase in the website’s traffic, and (2) the more readers visit the site for breaking news, the more likely that person would be to subscribe to the print edition (assuming they would subscribe to a print edition in the first place). Granted #2 there is a bit more tenuous than #1, but I think it’s true.