Monday, September 29, 2008

Drudge shows how to do news

As I scrambled from website to website this morning for the latest news while my retirement melted away, the place that consistently had the most complete, convenient and up-to-date information was the Drudge Report.

For all the millions of dollars and thousands of people employed at the mainstream newspapers, broadcast networks and cable channels, Drudge had assembled the perfect mix of salient links and real-time information, including:

:: A chart tracing the queasy plunge in the Dow Jones industrial average.

:: The live CSPAN feed of the House vote on the $700 billion rescue plan, which unfortunately was overwhelmed and periodically unavailable – the feed, that is, not the House.

:: The first actual vote results.

:: Key financial news like the Wachovia take-over, the Fed effort to pump additional billions into the credit system and a global market wrap-up.

:: The quickest political reaction – replete with a jab at Speaker Nancy Pelosi, because Drudge on even his best day [sigh] is still Drudge.

As usual, Drudge provided all this information – plus news of an earthquake in New Zealand, the latest campaign developments and a weird sculpture show in China – in a simple, uncluttered, format characterized by an economy of words and a few visual cues.

It is true that Drudge depends enormously on the mainstream media to populate his site. If the MSM suddenly dried up and blew away, Drudge wouldn’t have nearly as much to Report.

But with all due respect to the penetrating stories, elegant writing and dazzling multimedia presentations the mainstream media create, they can’t get the hang of delivering breaking news when their readers/viewers – and potential reader/viewers – most crave instant enlightenment.

By effectively conceding this opportunity to sites like Drudge, the mainstream media forfeit in significant measure their value and credibility, which, in turn, will constrain future audience growth and revenue prospects.

When are they going to learn how to compete?



8 Comments:

Blogger George H. said...

Please. "Depends enormously" is an understatement.

3:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I suppose the folks from the mainstream news outlets were too busy, you know, actually gathering the news and writing it up into something coherent so leeches like Drudge could link to it.

4:07 PM  
Anonymous Mike Phillips said...

The guy's my wire editor. Has been for several years. He's what I always wanted wire editors to be, when I had wire editors working for me, and rarely could persuade them to be.

So it's not a problem of "getting" the Web. It's a problem of getting the news.

7:08 PM  
Blogger Mike Paterson said...

Mike Phillips hit it on the head. When I worked at a newspaper in the mid-90s, we read the wire every night as copy editors. We controlled what pieces got into print at deadline and what sat for the next day or the trash can. Now, the wire is live on the web for everyone. We can even create our own newswires for RSS. It's not about the web. It's about distribution of the product. Coke in a can, Coke in a bottle, Coke in the fountain is still coke. Bud in a bottle, can, or tap is still bud. News in print or on the wire is still news to somebody. Drudge just puts it out there for everyone with a little commentary to make sure that the objective/subjective line is blurred.

8:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have hit a favorite long-standing bitch of mine: if Drudge can put together these reports, why can't we? I have suggested this to editor after editor, only to be met either with puzzled looks, or explanations that our newspaper doesn't want to link to stories in others because they are competitors. We have given away not only our lunch, but our breakfast and dinner with this silly reticence to grasp the new technology. This is hardly new because I think Drudge has been around for a decade or more and is making a comfortable living. Here it is: concrete proof of how newspapers don't want to change.
I am really looking forward to this recession sweeping away some of these dinosaurs.

8:08 PM  
Anonymous Clarence Cromwell said...

Drudge is an efficient scavenger, but the mainstream media produced all that content that he linked to. Are the rest of us really to lazy to surf for ourselves?

8:19 PM  
Blogger Lex said...

Am I the only one who finds Drudge...difficult to read?

Five to ten words to headline a story...is just NOT enough info for me!

I've gave up going there long ago.

I much prefer Yahoo's...more thorough click-on balloon summaries.

Of course, my interests are not of mass interest.

But Google's news does it so well...specially tailored to my specific interests... economic/political news from Brasil, Argentine, Cuba, Canada and Colombia.

Along, of course, with the indispensible "markets" news...from Mike Bloomberg's wonderful and now FREE outlet!

10:11 AM  
Anonymous Evil Pundit said...

Drudge isn't a scavenger of the mainstream media -- he's a lifeline for them.

Many old-style publications get the majority of their web hits from Drudge Report links. If it weren't for him, far fewer people would be reading their stories at all.

The short headlines he uses actually force interested readers to visit websites, unlike blogs which may make reading the original story superfluous.

Sadly, Drudge is not destroying the newspaper industry, but extending its life.

4:18 PM  

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