What ratio of immediacy-to-accuracy is important to you? If something is reported within minutes of it happening, does that have more value to you than something that is more accurate, but is delayed a day? This is the realm in which traditional media and bloggers compete and the battle is heating up.
Immediacy, by its very nature is not always accurate vis-à-vis being accurate takes more time. Information consumers are having to face this challenge in increasing frequency now. Let's look at this from the two sides of the equation from a consumer's perspective.
Timeliness is the essence of blogging. No medium in recent years allows more people to publish more content quicker. As a result of this, however, accuracy suffers. To combat the inaccuracies consumers have adjusted their expectations when reading blog content. Bloggers re-publish posts as facts are sorted out or new information becomes available.
On the other hand, consumers have a different expectation of traditional media. Traditional media has a reputation (hopefully) for accuracy and factual reporting. You can just hear the movie line now can't you? The big, burly publisher turns to green reporter and says "I need more copy on this and you need another source." This is not a discussion that happens in blogging.
Back to my opening question, what do you value more? If you have a source that lets you know breaking news first, won't you be loyal to them over less timely choices? Have you been burned before by relying too heavily on a blog or Wikipedia entry that wasn't accurate? Check out the following diagram for a visual of how this question presents itself to consumers and publishers. The ideal situation is to find a balance between speed and accuracy. This can vary from topic-to-topic and market-to-market as coverage changes.
Traditional media is being put under more pressure to deliver blog-like timeliness, but maintain their accurate reputation. Bloggers are, contrarily, being put under more pressure to be accurate in posting. The consumer's expectations need to be adjusted in each case. Traditional media can post blog content and update it as news breaks and details become more clear as long as the consumer is clear it is a blog. Bloggers need to be more careful on stating information as fact if it is opinion and keep blog posts up to date with current information.
In the end, the line between the two media is already blurring. Newspapers and magazines turn to user-generated content, comments and traditional reporting as a way to keep readers interested. USAToday.com just announced (today) a new, user-community format. Reviews of USAToday's move have been mixed, but the shift is definitely happening. Publishers need to realize the value of immediacy and consumer input. Bloggers need to work on overall accuracy and traditional media partnerships to give a more complete picture of a topic.
Here is some food for thought:
- Can traditional media reach users in the way bloggers do?
- How can traditional media change the expectations of consumers?
- What can bloggers learn from traditional reporting?
- Does it matter to you where you get news from?
Let me hear what you think.
Update: Steve Rubel has a post with his take on the challenge.
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