The death of the scoop

One of the hallmarks of traditional journalistic culture is the race for the “scoop” — beating competitors in a race to cover a “big” story.
This meta-story makes several assumptions. Fellow journalists are competitors. One’s job is to win against them. Sharing information is against the rules of the game.
When blogs cover news, the assumptions are different. Early reporting on the big Texas House telecom bill involves bloggers sharing information, puzzling out the intricacies of a debate with nearly 40 amendments, and the meaning of the bill that came out of the sausage machine.
The enemy isn’t other bloggers — it’s the indifference of the mainstream media to stories that are less dramatic than an oil refinery explosion. The Statesman covered the telecom story. The Dallas Morning News and Houston Chronicle apparently didn’t [correction: the Houston Chronicle picked up the AP story, and the Dallas News had a story on the bill’s passage by Vikas Bajaj].
In a world of online peer production, facts aren’t the scarce resource. Attention is the scarce resource. We’re not limited by the front page, news-hour spatial constraint where an oil refinery explosion crowds out other news. We’re limited by social dynamics that focus attention on the day’s cause celebre.
The scarce resource is attention. Collaboration multiplies links and attracts attention. Thus bloggers swarm to assemble the facts.

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