A very happy birthday to you, mom, without whom this blog would not be possible, and without whom I would be rendered hopelessly, painfully normal.
Indeed, I cannot imagine it.
The big news out today is that Reuters is going after the AP. Their new service, called Reuters America, intends to produce “Tier 2 domestic US news” with “one-person bureau chiefs,” with news “tailored to the needs of the US consumer media domestic audience.”
Which means they’re sending one-man bands into under-served markets and selling the news to American news organizations at prices that the AP can’t match.
In brief, it sounds a lot like my plans for Stry.
But here’s a key difference: Reuters America will still answer to breaking news. Per one of their job openings:
The one-person bureau chiefs for the service will be experienced correspondents… [responsible for] chasing down US domestic spot news on tight deadlines (15-30 minutes to match breaking news for Web sites with brief Urgents)
This is where Reuters misses the point.
There is an inefficiency in the news ecosystem, because wire services answer to breaking news. These wire services are easily distracted — time can’t be spent reporting on key issues in communities because a police scanner is lighting up. Great reporting requires focus.
And then there’s one other truth: with the growth of the web and social media, breaking news isn’t hurting, even as news organizations shrink.
So a modern news agency needs to take breaking news out of the equation. That’s the difference with Stry. By removing that obstacle, Stry will let our reporters focus on the stories that are of most importance to communities. Our model will allow us to deliver meaningful news to consumers. The best stories know no news cycles, and we are not going to rush our stories or the news gathering process.
I think Reuters America is doing a smart thing: they’re trying to disrupt the business model that’s taken them this far.
Their only failure is that they haven’t gone far enough.
During the previous month, I’ve been cleaning out my childhood room, and I’ve made some unusual discoveries. Here is some of what I’ve found, presented without comment.
3 Maryland Terrapins posters from 1995, featuring an ad for Erol’s Internet
1 World Cup USA 94 bumper sticker
1 pack of ‘Moochas Gracias’ stationary, featuring a picture of a cow in a sombrero
1 letter from my father to me, expressing extreme joy at the Washington Capitals’ recent signing of Jaromir Jagr
Several tiny magnets, including one from an airline called US Air, and another from the NBA Team Store
2 fake elementary school awards, including one for ‘Outstanding Participation’ in chess club
1 nose piece from my original (and only) pair of Rec Specs
1 ‘Share the Dream: Washington-Baltimore 2012 Olympics’ bumper sticker
1 copy of the front page of the Washington Post on Sept. 9, 2002, featuring the headline “Spurrier Dazzles in Debut”
1 photo of me interviewing former Maryland governor Bob Ehrlich
1 essay from my 7th grade English class, titled, “The Washington Capitals Have Just Given Up on this Season”
1 copy of a 50th anniversary magazine tribute to Bugs Bunny
1 photo of me, obviously taken at a bar mitzvah, in which I am strategically Photoshopped inside a toilet and looking out
1 photo of me in Montgomery County jail, taken during a 4th grade field trip
1 copy of the American Journalism Review, featuring the editor of the Los Angeles Times and the headline “Let the Good Times Roll”
2 Polaroids — 1 with Elroy from the Jetsons, and another with my father and sister at the Air & Space Museum
1 guide to napkin folding, as provided by the Holland America Cruise Line
1 trading card of Seattle SuperSonics center Olden Polynice
1 set of ‘moo’-themed stationary (separate from the ‘Moochas Gracias’ line of stationary)
1 copy of Sports Illustrated, featuring Mark McGwire and the headline “WHAT A SEASON”, and “AOL Keyword: Sports Illustrated” in the lower left hand corner
1 copy of the Washington Post, featuring the headline, “War Won’t Be Short, Bush Says”
1 telephone modem
1 baseball hat from the Bethesda-Chevy Chase youth baseball league
1 list of 70 potential careers, in which “writer,” “reporter” and “journalist” does not appear
A few weeks back, I was late for ONA10 in D.C. I had meant to get to a talk on APIs, but I missed the first subway ride down, and then I stopped for a bagel, and then I spotted David Cohn — he of Spot.us fame — and suddenly found myself even later.
Because he wanted to interview me about what I’ve been doing with Stry.