Less News, More Reporting

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

Farmers Weekly colleague Caroline on the sheer rudeness of the coalition government:

> It’s taken long enough, but we’ve finally got ourselves a new DEFRA secretary. Caroline Spelman was announced as the department’s head honcho at about 7pm last night. > > If I were paranoid, I’d say the politicians were timing their announcements just to wind us journos up. Gordy decided to tell everyone he was stepping down at 5pm (probably just as most of the national newspapers were getting ready to set their pages), while we were on our third version of the lead story for this week’s Farmers Weekly, ready to push the button to send the magazine to the printer, when Cazza got the official nod.

Ah, the tyranny of print, the necessity of delay, as the presses roll, the collators and binders work and the trucks deliver.

But that’s not the only tyranny at work:
> Take, for instance, the Haiti earthquake of January 12 this year. It got almost blanket news coverage for days, running on the front page of the national newspapers and precipitating a huge outpouring of donations. But then, slowly, despite the 230,000 estimated deaths and the rebuilding campaign led by Wyclef Jean, the earthquake was overtaken by ‘new’ news stories.
Ciaran attributes it to [the fickle market for news](http://ciaranjones.wordpress.com/2010/05/13/slipping-quietly-back-in-to-obscurity/). But I can’t help but wonder if it’s a touch more complicated than that. For one thing, we have the tyranny of space – the limitation enforced by the physical number of pages in a publication. But we also have the tyranny of news over reporting. The internet is damn good at news – far better than paper ever was, and ever will be now. 
But print is damn good at reporting – at long, in depth reporting. Words, photos, infographics. All the things that print does so well. Would I buy a magazine with some really well-researched, written and produced updates on the Haiti situation? Damn right, I would. 
Maybe, just maybe, we need a little less news and a little more reporting. 
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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.