People’s appetites for stories are at their highest, and yet circulation numbers are dropping across the board. Picture a magazine with all the pages torn out and grabbed at by millions. Now stay focused on that image as you once again hear the platitude “it’s all about content.” What it means is that people are simply burning through the cover and seeing the stories. These can be long ones, short ones, the length made relative by cyberage attention spans.
What they seek, find, or more often than not stumble upon, are stories that can come from anywhere. They prefer it this way even if they don’t know it. They prefer to get wind of stories that other people are reading, and not admit that that’s why they’re reading them. It’s crowd-sourced relevance at its core.
Very seldom do they look first at the name of the publication. Not unless they’re nailed to it because of some regular need, being hooked to a daily fix, as in for news dailies. Everything else is catch as catch can. The publisher is looked at only after the headline called their attention, and looked to keenly for credibility.
If the story is such a scoop that it has to hurdle some scepticism, then the publisher’s reputation comes into play. And that’s when a story’s value gets away from crowd caused relevance and gets back to the brass tacks of having a brick-and-mortar entity stand by its news reports.
So, ironically, the better the content, the more informative it is or the more groundbreaking its revelations, the more it depends on the publisher’s traditional media reputation. Good investigative or exclusive content need to be attributed to the old guard to be distinguished from the more common citizen content that now saturates the ‘Net. Those old grey ladies of print and broadcast media still have a lot to contribute, and if they really get it, they’ll be marking new territory with the quality of their reporting.