Last week, I received an e-mail from Neil Thurman at City University, suggesting that I check out his new research on user generated content. I though “looks interesting”, but by the time I got around to looking at it, reading it and thinking about what to post, other journalism bloggers were already onto it. Shane Richmond weighed in, suggesting that Thurman’s research was “flawed”, not least because it was outdated by the time it was published. And Adrian Monck had weighed in with a response.
Speed & The Digital Journalist
And I couldn’t help feeling that I’d missed the boat. The conversation had been done and had moved on. To post about it now, would be a bit like bursting into the pub and going “Guys, did you see last week’s [Torchwood](http://www.bbc.co.uk/torchwood/)?” while they’re all discussing this week’s episode.
The irony of all of this is that today, I was talking to our web editors’ forum about liveblogging events. This is a classic example of an area where the traditional journalistic practice of sitting back and only offering mediated analysis after the event, rather than up-to-the-minute coverage through a blogging platform can be harmful to traffic, simply because you’re placing outmoded views of urgency (“we’ll cover it in the next issue”) ahead of the reader demand for the information now. And I’ve liveblogged events often enough to understand that.
However, I still fall back into the “oh, I’ve got time to look at that later” mindset of the weekly magazine journalist. I got excellent web traffic from both the [Max Gogarty business](http://www.onemanandhisblog.com/archives/2008/02/when_mainstream_media_blogging.html) and the [RBI divestment news](http://www.onemanandhisblog.com/archives/2008/02/rbi_to_be_divested_by_reed_els.html) last month, simply by being very timely with my posting. But this time, I missed the boat. I missed the discussion and I regret that. Just as Thurman’s research was handicapped by being outdated by the time of publication, journalists who fail to move at web speed are going to fail to catch the public’s attention, by offering stories only after the public tire of them.
The next issue is now. This very second. Are you ready?
Adam has been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 25. He currently works as a consultant and trainer, helping people do better, more engaged online journalism.