In a recent blog posting, Ideavirus author Seth Godin argues that publishing national news in a local news site is lazy journalism. It may get you a few eyeballs, but it makes no sense in building a long-term audience in a global world.
He cites repeated copies of a story about Louis CK as an example of wasted pixels. He also notes re-tweeting what every reader will learn elsewhere merely slices the news pie thinner and thinner. Leave those re-tweets to the unpaid, he argues, so that journalists can spend their time instead digging out something that others don’t already know.
The challenge for the mainstream media, however, is that it is all about revenue. It’s not just easy but cheap to post items from AP and other sources, and the bottom line is all about the clicks. That’s why Huffington Post and other click-hungry sites can’t resist misleading headlines and teasers – made you look!
The issue is finding a sustainable model to provide quality journalism at the local level. I see non-profit national sites such as Truthout and AlterNet have survived without using these tricks. They rely on advertising as well as on asking visitors for donations or using book or DVD giveaways. The challenge is finding similar models for local news whose reach does not extend as far.