Susan Finch has written a zinger of an article for the September issue of New Orleans Magazine titled “Death of a Daily – When the End Began for Times-Picayune Staffers”.
Finch writes about Sheila Grissett, “a longtime Times-Picayune reporter who left the paper last year,” after more than 25 years because “Nola.com-driven changes began so adversely impacting the way she did her job.”
Finch quotes Grissett as saying:
I’m old-school, and when you tell me that I must post a partially reported piece of news – even if it’s wrong and can later be corrected – because some people somewhere want to see something new, anything new, each and every time they click, that was my line in the sand. I believe that the only acceptable mistakes in news stories are the honest ones. Only a dedication to accuracy can make journalism honorable.
That statement reveals a major consequence of a digital-first strategy: There is constant pressure to publish new online material to keep the visitor coming back for more, all the time. Why? Because more clicks result in more page views, which result in more advertising sales. The problem with this priority is that it places a greater emphasis on sheer volume of content rather than on its depth and accuracy.
If you want concrete evidence that this is the priority at NOLA.com, all you have to do is read about it there, where, in describing the new look of the home page in July, Editor Jim Amoss wrote:
Check the site each morning for the stories you won’t want to miss before starting your day. Check back later in the day for breaking news and continuing coverage of the stories you need most. Check back in the evening for a recap of the day’s most important developments in news, sports and entertainment.
We will constantly publish new content, not necessarily because it’s newsworthy, but to keep you coming back to the site all day so we can increase the page view counts we use to justify what we charge our advertisers, with the ultimate goal of generating more online ad revenue.
Be prepared for a whole new set of “journalistic standards” when the T-P’s digital-first strategy is fully implemented.