So, I’m going to start out this post by congratulating all other media corporations for tying for second place in their Dean Smith coverage. Looking across headlines and front pages from across the state, I had to say I was impressed with the creative designs and touching stories.
But unfortunately for them, The Daily Tar Heel put out the best front page, stories, special section, design, photos, etc. on Dean Smith. Am I biased?
But this issue was too damn good for me not to brag.
The paper was so popular that we were forced to print an extra 7,000 copies. Our phone lines were busy all-day as out-of-state Smith fans inquired on how they could get their hands on an issue. I had people come up to me as I set up in the Pit to hand out the extra printed copies and tell me they drove from Greensboro, from Wilmington, from High Point, to pick up a DTH.
All in all, it was one of the gratifying days in my short journalism career.
But then something a little odd happened.
We started becoming a story ourselves. First, it was just UNC’s vine (which I tweeted out with my own commentary….and was RTed by the J-school’s career services. It was certainly a different day.)
Then it was ABC11. And News 14. These news agencies wanted to hear about our special issue, how we had printed extra copies, how are boxes were completely empty at 10 this morning. And that’s fine — but is it news?
Where is the line for what news is?
As someone who reports on and writes about news, I never want to be the centerpiece of the news. 99 times out of 100 it means you’ve messed up to the point of public humiliation/shame/embarrassment.
Hell, just ask Brian Williams.
Yet, this story was positive; people were eating up our amazing special section. Should we be appreciative that other news organizations wanted to report on our success?
As odd as it sounds, this happening demonstrated everything that is wrong with the way people digest news today. ABC11 has to always have news to give its readers and watchers, or else they simply change the channel or site to 11’s competitor. So, naturally, 11 resorts to over saturating my newsfeed.
While what happened to us was interesting, it should never be news that your competitor did well; we would never report that the N&O won a Pulitzer or that WRAL broke a ratings record.
Media consumers are used to new information every second so media companies feel obligated to do this. While it is a noble ideal to want to constantly update your consumers, it simply isn’t practical in a value sense. You’re not going to digest quality news substance through this method of news creation.
I am not insulting 11 for what they did, because I understand it is the market we live. I just wish it wasn’t — especially with the already demanding pressure that comes with being a reporter.