A week or so ago the Philadelphia Inquirer provided news industry observers the opportunity to beat their breasts and exclaim, “We get it, you don’t!” This is a popular thing to do, but in this case it was a tempest in a teapot.
The much quoted Inquirer memo said in part:
Beginning today, we are adopting an Inquirer first policy for our
signature investigative reporting, enterprise, trend stories, news
features, and reviews of all sorts. What that means is that we won’t
post those stories online until they’re in print. We’ll cooperate with
philly.com, as we do now, in preparing extensive online packages to
accompany our enterprising work. But we’ll make the decision to press
the button on the online packages only when readers are able to pick up
The Inquirer on their doorstep or on the newsstand.
This does not mean that we will put the brakes on the immediate posting
of breaking news that puts us first in a competitive Web marketplace.
On the contrary.
The devil is in the details, of course, and time will tell if the Inquirer goes overboard with this policy, but in holding back non-time sensitive news until print publication the organization is simply making explicit what news organizations everywhere already do. Many commentators saw things differently, but is the Inquirer really being excoriated for waiting 15 minutes, half a day, or even a few days to publish an enterprise type of story that isn’t time sensitive? You have to pick a time to push the publish button and, without time sensitivity, along with the print publication is probably as good as any. Getting that story online about the Rittenhouse Square Renaissance on Saturday at noon is really that much more valuable than Sunday at 7am? Why aren’t these same people wailing about television news organizations waiting to publish video to the Web until after their investigative pieces air?
Again, we’ll see how this is actually implemented, but this gnashing of teeth is more about people falling over themselves to establish their “Web centric” credentials then the identification of a real problem. A Ryan Sholin interview with Chris Krewson of the Inquirer further suggests this is the case.
Meanwhile, Howard Owens has a different take.
More troubling, however, is a point made by Steve Yelvington who focuses on the memo’s instruction to, “cooperate with philly.com, as we do now ….” Doesn’t exactly sound like an integrated organization.