Newspapers are dying all over the country. Television news, on both the local and national levels, is cutting back. We live in a news environment that has more commentary than ever but less and less original reporting.
For reporters and media professionals, this is an opportunity.
Original, investigative, reporting was once fairly standard in newsrooms and, unless the scoop was Watergate big, unremarkable in itself. The relative absence of original information in today’s market, however, and the increase in the number of outlets hungry for news about which to opine, has turned the discovery of new information into an opportunity for a multimedia platform.
Two fairly recent sports books brought this notion to mind. When Selena Roberts learned that Alex Rodriguez, one of baseball’s biggest stars, had used performance enhancing drugs, it turned her about to be released book into an event. She gave interview after interview, in print, on television, on the radio, to blogs, and had an excerpt of the book run in Sports Illustrated (where she is a Senior Writer), all based around what was essentially one fact. Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams had a similar experience with their book, Game of Shadows, about Barry Bonds and his steroid supplier.
During the relative frenzy around their books, the authors seemed to me, at times, to be like a student with a particularly great science fair project who’s asked to show it to all the other classes. “Take a look at my fact. I found it myself.”
In both cases the author(s) already had a strong platform, Sports Illustrated and the San Francisco Chronicle, respectively, from which to promote their discoveries And in years past the outcome of their work might have been a great magazine article or a series of hard hitting newspaper stories, not a multimedia blitz.
The opportunity then, is in the increased potency of new information that might not otherwise have been discovered. While such nuggets once created a news story or drove it forward, now they’re a book deal and a tour up and down the television dial.