I'm finally catching up on some old news from earlier in the summer. From a May piece from the Nieman Lab
“It’s very easy today to be click-driven and produce articles that don’t have a lot of substance or depth and don’t cost that much to produce,” Hansmann said. “But that dynamic is disappointing for fans who want higher-quality content. We’re not about trying to be the next ESPN or something, but finding the segment of fans that care deeply about their teams and serving them with something that’s high-quality.”
I have no idea whether or not this is going to be a successful venture. But the idea behind it is extremely interesting.
There seems to be a growing feeling against the click-driven content-farm journalism that has become widespread in the digital age. I have no data on this, and it may just be my selective attention, but it does seem that more people both inside and outside journalism are trying to build news sources that go beyond the easy stories, the rewrite-as-aggregation, the "you won't believe what happens next" stories.
Analytics in journalism are good. They tell us what our readers are actually reading, rather than allowing us to guess or assume. In an era of limited resources, knowing where to best spend your time and attention is important. But chasing clicks at all costs is problematic. There's still an element of journalism that requires us to tell stories that readers don't necessarily want to know about, or don't think they care about, and becoming a slave to the click count can eliminate that.
The question, of course, is will fans pay for this kind of journalism? When stories are widely available for free, or the best stories are simply aggregated and rewritten on free sites, will fans pay for first-run original content?
We'd all love to think they will. History tells us they probably won't.
But thinking beyond the advertising-driven click culture is an important step for us to take.