Media coverage of events across the world has grown manifold in the past decade or so. With the advent of newer forums that use the Web2.0 infrastructure – blogs, twitter, podcast, etc – there are more than enough avenues for folks to get their daily share of news from.
The traditional print news media is caught blinded by this explosion of sorts. Not worrying about traditional competition anymore, they are just looking for ways and means to keep their current customer base in place and not lose market share to the new media outlets.
No matter what the level of news reach the online publication options provide, there’s still bound to be a time and place for traditional print: be it on an airplane, be it fulfilling the morning ritual of a quick glance at the newspaper with a cup of coffee, or lying down by the pool side on a quiet Saturday afternoon with a newspaper in hand.
So, as an editor to a leading news publication, the biggest challenge is to capture and retain the attention of the reader. Does one go the mass market way and provide a tabloid, or does one focus on providing enriched content that adds cerebral value to the reader? The answers to these questions determine the critical choice of whether to put certain events’ coverage on page-1 or page-3 of the newspaper.
If someone were to pick up a USA-Today and Wall Street Journal in Boston today, there’s a marked difference in the Page-1 content between the newspapers. The same difference is obviously visible when one looks at The Hindu & Times Of India in Bangalore, which is on the other side of the world.
While these newspapers cover the same little urban village, that is the world, and the content is from the same events worldwide, there’s a marked difference on what the focus of these newspapers is, especially when it comes to deciding what goes on Page-1!
As the executive editor, or whatever he or she is now called, what goes into them making these choices? Does their role move beyond just the coverage; do they owe something to the world at large i.e. the customers, by virtue of their bi-partisan positions? Is there a moral side to it? It must be hard to strike a balance between being a self-righteous moral police and being seen as enticing audience with sensationalism.
Essentially, there’s a simple answer to this seemingly complex conundrum and the solution is equally applicable to an individual or entity. The clues lie in answering one question:
Are you a false positive or a false negative?
Stripping all the jargon around it, would you rather be seen as doing the right thing, or would you rather do the right thing and not care about the perception or the end results?
What would you do??
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