Sunday, August 31, 2008

Can We All Get Along?

The news triumvirate of South Florida --the Miami Herald, the Sun-Sentinel and the Palm Beach Post -- have agreed to share certain content, their respective editors announced Friday. The news exchange also includes the Spanish newspapers El Nuevo Herald, El Sentinel and La Palma of the PB Post.

Somehow, the papers are going to share content while also "preserving" competition. How is this possible? When newspapers share content, it means fewer newspapers will cover the news, regardless of whether it's called "routine" news or some other type of news. It's really that simple.

''Our goal is to better serve our South Florida audiences while protecting the individual brands and identities of our respective newspapers,'' a statement from the editors said, as reported in Editor and Publisher.


This could mean that newspapers, like many online news sites, may become aggregators of news. That is, they publish stories by many different originators. That's not unlike what newspapers do via their membership in the Associated Press: They buy the right to publish other newspapers' stories, most often national and international news.

What the newspapers have done is to bypass AP, which is happening more these days. But here's the danger: They're also bypassing the newsgathering process of their own newsrooms. If you gather news, you gather sources and insight into what is happening in your area. So this is announcement is not necessarily good news for readers who are interested in contrasting news coverage.

Obviously, the newspapers are trying to control costs, save money. It's a nod to the tough economic times the industry is facing that the traditional and long-held rivalries among newspapers that brought readers tough news coverage is giving way to the kumbaya of let's all get along.

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