Saturday, August 23, 2008


Saturday's newspapers are a good example of how the industry is old, tired and obsolete. A truckload of papers missed the news of presidential candidate Barack Obama's VP pick. Now, you may or may not care about the presidential campaign, but this is a good example of how newspapers are getting scooped. They no longer own their own business, which is breaking news.

If you jut had to know Obama's VP choice, you could have signed up at the candidate's Web site for a text message. In other words, the campaign didn't need newspapers to tell the news. It retained complete control of its own breaking story.

The text message went out early Saturday morning to individual supporters and others first, before it went out to the media. Seems to me, the choice deliberately bypassed Friday night deadlines. As expected, many newspapers were caught flat footed.

In Florida, the St. Pete Times got it (it's not for nothing that the St. Pete Times is the state's best paper), but not the Miami Herald, the Sun-Sentinel, Orlando Sentinel, Palm Beach Post or the Tampa Tribune. (Go to to compare front pages from across the U.S. and 56 other countries every day.)

With the advantage of a 3-hour time difference, many but not all West Coast papers carried the news. In the Midwest, the Chicago Sun-Times had it, but not the Chicago Tribune. East Coast papers as a group didn't fare well. The Washington Post missed it, as did the Washington Times, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

Of course, the online version of the papers can make up for the print gaffe. Trouble is, online operations aren't staffed 24 hours a day; however, maybe they should be. That may be an example of new thinking that keeps newspapers competitive, which is what online newsgathering is supposed to do.


Anonymous said...

Actually, the news on Obama's choice did make it in about 40,000 copies of the final edition of Saturday's paper.

Anonymous said...

I heard the Obama campaign leaked the news around 12:00AM, leaving all those who signed up for an 'exclusive' text message to get nothing more than future pleas for money.

Dan said...

As someone who has spent the past 16 years in the public relations business, I neither blame newspapers for "missing" a story that was released in the middle of the night, nor do I think anyone in the news business should be surprised.

Businesses, and now political campaigns, have finally learned that the news media's job is NOT to tell their story, and technological advances make it far easier for you to bring your message directly to the audiences you wish to reach.

Newspapers are still important, but they no longer are the only way to communicate with a large audience.

Anonymous said...

The Obama camp deliberately tried to bypass the media outlets -- and mitigate the counterattack from McCain. Why else would they release the news on a Friday night/Saturday morning. It's actually amazing some East Coast papers had it at all. Though that doesn't excuse the other time zones.