This is the news and this is why we did it

One of the joys of the web is it opens up the thinking process behind news values decisions to, well, everyone.

Take the Birmingham Mail’s exclusive letter from Gareth Barry to Aston Villa fans, for instance. The Mail didn’t post it up until after lunch, despite it being an exclusive and something, I imagine, that would have sent a fair amount of traffic in their direction.

Like Joanna Geary, I would have assumed it was a bit of a missed opportunity for the paper. But then the editor, Steve Dyson, enters into the comments and explains exactly why they held back.

Having read his explanation – and the amount of publicity they got out of the letter – I can see his reasons. And I can’t blame him either. It’s one of the few times you can make a convincing argument for holding back from publishing online. Then again you could also say the increased traffic would have been worth it. But would they have got the credit? It’s a fascinating debate.

But I do like that Steve took the time to enter into the comments and explain the paper’s thought process. Ok, it probably helps that Joanna is an ex-employee, but then her blog is quite widely-read in the industry, so it makes sense to get involved.

The more readers can understand editorial decisions, the closer the bond they have with the paper, and that can only increase if journalists will take a bit of time now and then to chat about it.

Ok, it doesn’t make sense to actively hunt down every comment about every article (although there are probably some journalists who do this), but the odd comment on the odd relevant blog, even if it’s negative, goes a long way. In the old days, the blogger would have probably got a rather stern email instead of a comment.

If traditional media is to survive in these choppy waters, we all need to befollowing Steve’s lead and having conversations like this across the web,

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2 Responses to “This is the news and this is why we did it”


  1. 1 Steve Dyson June 4, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    Thanks for the interest, Gary. Your readers can follow more debate on the thinking behind newspaper decisions at http://blogs.birminghammail.net/editorschair/2009/06/exclusive-gareth-barry-letter.html

  2. 2 Gary Andrews June 5, 2009 at 8:55 am

    Thanks Steve (and thanks for taking the time to come on here and comment!). It’s really interesting to read, and there’s not too many other newspapers I’ve seen so far that are so open and active in engaging.

    BTW, sorry the comment took a while to appear on here. Any comment with a hyperlink automatically gets held into a pending folder due to the high level of spam I occasionally get.


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