by Roger Pynn
Today it was “Congestion reported on I-4, SR 408.” Yesterday, it was “Morning congestion slowing traffic on roadways.” That’s right … “Breaking News” directly from the Breaking News Center at OrlandoSentinel.com. Not only are these not breaking news – because they happen routinely – daily, in fact – but they share space with stories such as “Software firm has jobs it can’t fill” – updated 20 hours ago, and afternoon and evening weather forecasts from two days ago. As I write this at 1:35 in the afternoon, it notes this morning’s I-4 congestion story was last updated at 8:39 a.m.
Newspapers can’t and shouldn’t try to compete with radio. If they want to grab you (suck you in to their website for click’s sake), it ought to be with substantial information that contributes to your knowledge base … not something you heard the eye-in-the-sky reporter (or your subscription GPS service) deliver 15 minutes ago.
Their objective is that we become hooked on breaking news alerts and turn to them for a “news fix” but I’d wager that more – and more valuable – readers would establish deeper relationships with these sites if once or twice a week they really delivered something locally important. Get rid of a few clerk reporter and Web poster positions and hire another real journalist. Send them out to uncover something that really affects my life.