The recent Twitter attacks have truly shown the ugly social media. Oh, you think I am talking about the hackers, don't you? No, not them. I'm talking about the bloggers and the tweeters. I am talking about us.
There seems to be a constant race in social media. Is Twitter down? You must be first to blog about it. Is Twitter back up? You must be first to blog about it. Did Biz Stone have a veggie burger for dinner? Well, then you MUST be first to blog about it.
It's getting out of control. So out of control that even the bigger blogs are starting to race. Mashable posted no less than 37 blog posts the day Twitter suffered its dreaded first DDoS attack. All right, I slightly exaggerate. However, I think that there was such a focus on being first and gaining readership that the Mashable team neglected one of the most sensible rules of reporting: update the ongoing story; don't post 36 different revisions. And for those of us who know better, that just created noise.
I shouldn't pick on poor Mashable. I'm actually a big fan of the site... usually. However, lately a lot of blogs have gone the way of the tabloid by almost climbing all over each other to be first to report on even the most innocuous news (i.e. the birth of Evan William's baby). Enough already.
Just because journalism is growing and changing does not mean that old-school common sense goes by the wayside. If anything it is even more critical that we thoroughly vet the content that we're sharing. I know that a lot of bloggers get paid on page views and, trust me, I can relate to that struggle. But for me, the question that comes first for me above all else is: "Will this provide value for my readers?"
Remember The Tortoise and the Hare?
I know that rehashing a TechCrunch news article unless is not going to help my readers unless I can provide a unique angle or a fascinating new source to the discussion. I'd rather wait a few days and look at the larger trends and issues and talk about that. Perhaps it's not always light and snappy, but I'm establishing a core readership of people who really want to look at the bigger picture. And *those* are the people for whom I am writing â€" not the public at large who I hope might stumble onto my blog so that I see more dollar signs. Maybe I'm old-fashioned in the sense that I want to provide original content, but I'm also a big fan of quality over quantity in every angle of my life.
Why? What's the harm in repeating the same news and blogging something that's been blogged 600 times? Well, I suppose it's not bad if your site is actually, well, news driven. There are parts of ZDNet that are absolutely news driven and need to be that way. But how many of our blogs are actually designed to provide breaking news to our readers? I'd wager that that number is low.
There's a huge issue of over saturation in our trendy little market. Sometimes I'm concerned that we've all forgotten what is actually news. There's also a gigantic protective bubble around social media that needs to be popped. And I know that major news networks and sites are always in the race for the big story, but I'll clue you in on a little secret:
VERY LITTLE THAT WE DO IS EARTH SHATTERING
Whew, with that said, I challenge each and everyone one of us to focus more on original content and less on racing to be the first one with the story. You want your readers to be the ones who win. Plus, our industry really needs it.
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