Another exhibit of not getting it
No, this is not another rant about a newsroom not getting the 'Net - although that's part of it. It's about a newsroom not getting it, period. And as news staffs continue to get cut, as they have at The State, you begin to wonder if anyone really is minding the store.
The case for the prosecution:
- On Monday, the paper ran a nice advance story on PBS' "The History Detectives" having come to Columbia at the request of a history buff who thought the historical marker noting the bridge that Union Gen. William T. Sherman used to reach Columbia was out of place. The bridge is long gone, of course, but there appear to be remnants in the Broad River.
- The story strongly hinted the history buff was right, but noted, "Everyone involved has been sworn to secrecy until the episode is shown." Fair enough.
- Episode airs Monday night. History buff is proved correct.
- Does The State update its story or do a follow-up story? Dare you to find one. Do a search on The State's Web site and you come up with a link that reads 'History Detectives' to Columbia Man: 'You were correct." Go ahead - click on that link. You will be almost instantly redirected back to the original, un-updated story! Hello? Anyone home?
Having put the advance story in a prominent position one day, no city editor in his or her right mind in years past would not have done at least a short follow-up. But you won't find one in the paper. (And you've already gotten online whiplash if you clicked on that link.)
Sure, the paper put up a nice link to the video story on its Web site. I'd give kudos, but that should be routine these days. But what about folks who don't want to sit through 15 minutes of video, who have busy lives but who were left wondering from Monday's paper and may just want to know quickly "Did they ever prove it?"
Instead, this paper has gone from essentially owning the story and setting itself up to be "the answerer of questions," thus helping its follow-up audience, time on site and all that stuff, to potentially being major clueless irritant. (Not to mention there was additional info to be reported from Monday's show - that the history buff apparently has in process an application to move the marker. This involves Civil War history, folks, and such things are not taken lightly in these parts.)
I've seen this play out more and more. And it's not just papers. There was the recent disappearing act by TVs when it came to the early stages of the L.A. fires.
Let's hope "not getting it," a bad-enough ailment in the digital realm, doesn't turn out to be the creeping crud.