Do You Have to Be First?
Do you have to be the first with the news on your blog?
I talked to several bloggers at the recent WordCamp Dallas who told me that their hardest task with their blogs was being the first out with the news.
While living for many years in the Middle East, I learned to appreciate the top of the hour when all the cabbies and store owners would crank up the volume on their ubiquitous radios to hear the three to five minute news broadcast. I, too, learned to hover near my radio at the top of the hour so I would know what was happening, where I shouldn’t travel, and how I would plan my day around the events and activities I heard on the news.
For us, our daily activities were structured around what we heard on the news. It dictated our lives right down to the smallest detail as whether or not I would buy groceries at the huge open market or go to the local grocery store and pay twice as much.
Few news reports impact lives so greatly, and much of what many people call “news” isn’t news but entertainment – infotainment as some call it. It doesn’t impact nor change the very structure of our day to day lives.
I waited until the top of the hour. Some bloggers can’t wait that long. They just want to be first out the door in the battle for link fame and trackbacks. If you are a publisher of news, in any form, being first out of the door can impact your bottom line.
Do you need to be first? Why?
In my presentation at WordCamp 2007 on blog content and development, I stunned the audience by telling them that unless they can honestly be the first out with the news, it is better to be one of the ones who digests and processes the news before hitting the publish button as then they will have something to add to the blog conversation rather than regurgitating the old news.
For many, this was a new thought. I want you to think about how important it is for you to be first with the news on your blog. Why?
The author of Lorelle on WordPress and the fast-selling book, Blogging Tips: What Bloggers Won't Tell You About Blogging, as well as several other blogs, Lorelle VanFossen has been blogging for over 15 years, covering blogging, WordPress, travel, nature and travel photography, web design, web theory and development extensively as web technologies developed.
Oh yea I know what that is like being first. I also am guilty of that. However I feel that sometimes you owe it to your readers to publish weather you are first or not. Personal choice but one that I often make for my readers.
I’m not first. I’m never first. I don’t want to be first and I’ve had my bacon saved by not being first.
I don’t think people come to my site for the latest information, instead, I focus on providing thorough, useful analysis of what is going on and working on getting the best information, not the quickest.
The way I see it, unless you have a huge team of writers, you can not control when you find out about an article and, even if you do everything possible, will miss some stories. It’s best to be known for something you can control, doing the best job you can.
Besides, there have been times I’ve waited on reporting a story to find out that there were serious errors in it later. That’s helped my credibility.
As such as it is…
LOVED that statement. I wish more bloggers would do that so the blogosphere as a whole would become a much more interesting read. Old Media does the “ditto” news ad nauseum after the breaking story hits. The only time you should “scoop” the news is when you actually have some scoop.
I know I can’t be first, so I don’t even try. I like to think that instead I bring thoughtful insight and analysis, as well as gathering and seeing connections between disparate news items.
I think I can be the first. But I do not want to be…
There are different ways to be ‘first’.
Most people thing of being ‘first’ in the sense of the story: to be the first to refer to an event, a product, some media, or some such thing.
Such ‘firsts’ are centered around the immediate, and hence, often the trivial and the meaningless. Being ‘first’ practically guarantees not depth of explanation or exploration of themes.
My newsletter is structured so as to practically eliminate the possibility of being first, inasmuch as it cites the source of every item it posts (and typically cites an intermediary ‘via’ source as well).
Yet, despite this – and perhaps because of this – my newsletter is ‘first’ in different ways: the place where people see things first, the place where trends are noticed first, the place where some insight or observation can be seen first.
I think that blogs that seek legions of me-too links and daily ‘firsts’ weaken themselves in the long run.
I don’t really try to be first, I post about things when I’ve decided what I think about them, my blog is about opinions on the news not necessarily breaking news (although once or twice a year I post as soon as possible, MacWorld anybody?).
I think it all depends on the niche in which you are blogging.
Take the iPhone arena. Dozens of blogs exist but you can separate out the ‘up to date’ ones by seeing which ones reveal breaking news first (and hence monitor those particular blogs for your own research needs).
However, I am generally a fan of reporting news and then giving my readers resources for further exploration. Substance seems to really improve readership.