This concept was dead before I was born
(image courtesy of Technapex)
Recently, a news crew from MSNBC bribed their way into an active crime scene and exposed information that could damage the investigation. And why? To get a “scoop”! Because getting a scoop, or landing an “exclusive interview!” is important, right?
It was disgusting. It was journalistic malpractice. And it was completely and utterly useless. It gained the public no additional understanding of what had happened, it didn’t help the police, and it brought nothing but opprobrium down on the network that put out the footage. Good work, there, MSNBC!
Look: I was watching a video on YouTube, and the (typically baritone and serious-sounding) news anchor informed us proudly that this was a story that “you’ll only see . . . on NewsChannel 3.”
Of course, I was watching it on YouTube. Not only did I not know where “NewsChannel 3” was, hell, I didn’t even know what time zone they might be in. Or when the clip was posted. Or by who. Nor did I care a whit.
And that’s a problem that I see with Big Media: they’re wedded to “the scoop” or the “big get” “exclusive” interview. And aside from a very few people that I like to see doing interviews—Jon Stewart (when he’s on his game), Rachel Maddow—I simply don’t care who has the “get,” or “the scoop,” or “broke the story.” I don’t think anyone does, honestly.
It’s time that news organizations realized that, in an era with news aggregators, YouTube, RSS feeds, Twitter, Facebook, Instant Messaging, and other news-gathering tools and methods, the old rules of “scooping” simply don’t apply (if indeed they ever did outside the minds of reporters).
I don’t care who has a particular story “first,” by days, hours, or minutes. I care about the information, and I care about whether the story is accurate, but as to whether the story came from Salon of the New York Times or “NewsChannel 3”? Nope, don’t care in the least. But it sure seems like the Times, the Post, the networks, Fox, and places like “NewsChannel 3” do care.
And that’s the thing; if those outlets are spending their effort going for the wrong goal–the “scoop”–then they’re not providing the public with what it wants. And they’re not going to get an audience that is after facts that are accurate.
And as for the “exclusive” interview, these days its basically a meaningless term. If you’re talking to Donald Trump, it’s not an “exclusive” even if The Donald wasn’t willing to talk to you last week. That guy can’t stop talking; no interview with him can possibly be an “exclusive”. Which goes for pretty much any other public figure, and doubly-so for politicians. Yes, I’m interested in an interview with Elizabeth Warren, or Wendy Davis, or anyone else on my “I wonder what they’re thinking” list. But whether it’s “exclusive” to Fox or NBC or whoever plays absolutely no part in my decision-making process.
And further, by next month or next week (or hell, sometimes even the next day), the same person will give out another interview (often also touted as “an exclusive!”) to another outlet. With even highly-public folks posting selfies, having their own Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, or whatever accounts, the “exclusive” is a dead concept. Sorry, mainstream media, but it is. Get over it.
In this turbo-charged, highly-connected, text messaging and web-based culture, do we want stuff fast? Sure we do. But does anyone really care where the facts come from, and who gets them “first”, and whether it’s “exclusive” (whatever the heck that means any more)? No one that I know.
Get the facts right, MSM—because if you get it wrong, it won’t matter if you’ve got an “exclusive!” or a “scoop!”; people will stop listening to you, reading you, or paying attention to you. And they definitely won’t shell out any money for you.
So can we declare the “scoop” and the “exclusive” dead now and move on? Please? Because I don’t know about you, but I simply don’t care.