Monday, August 10, 2009

Shh! Don’t tell Monica

What a crack up. I was out on Friday night and caught up with one of the guys from Stuff and his friends, all of whom I know. First thing one of them says to me is “I knew about what Stuff were going to do, and I was told not to tell you”. OK… That’s a little too cryptic for me late on a Friday night.

Following a little digging I realized what they were talking about was the
stunt Stuff pulled in Auckland last week. I guess my question would have to be, why not tell me? If I was going to pull a stunt like that, creating some talk prior to the event, probably would have helped it out. There is this lovely little term, ‘embargo’ that is used by pretty much anyone who has time sensitive information, but need media coverage of some description. It means, “here, we’ll give you a heads up, but we need you to wait until this time before you publish” and it works well. Getting someone (even someone as insignificant as little ol’ me) to start teasing this information is going to get people talking. People talking is good, it means they care – goodness knows I am always more concerned when people stop talking about me.

I have to admit, the stunt itself didn’t wow me all that much, and while there was a little bit of buzz on Twitter about it, not enough for me to RT anything, or even bother to look at the video. Nice idea, try to get some energy around going in Auckland, pull some of the Herald readers, just didn’t hit the nail on the head for me.

And this is why… Stuff rarely break stories, in fact most of the ‘news’ publishers are behind the 8 ball when it comes to breaking stories. If I look back at the big news events which have happened in the last few months, and where I got my information from, it was Twitter, not a news publisher. (This is where I have to admit that I do not follow either the Herald or Stuff on Twitter because it feels a little spammy to me, they tend to tweet a barrage of info all at one time – too much).

Bain trial – Twitter (
Michael Jackson – Twitter (
@CNNBreak were first to confirm from those I follow)
Weatherston – Twitter (Can’t remember where this came from, a number of sources if I remember rightly)

The one thing I do know, is that from the people I follow, NOT ONE RT’ed or noted a major NZ News publisher as the source of their information for any of the events above.

So this ‘Consequences’ campaign, what irks me, is this ‘breaking stories first’ issue – to what lengths? Quite unfortunately Stuff got busted recently for the pre-writing of the Weatherston verdict - article written, with guilty verdict, well before the jury came back. So while they are pushing the idea of being the first to break a story, the question is, at what cost? NBR has put up a paywall on articles in an attempt to keep journalists (yeah, I know, that is a very long story, short – but it seemed to be the main reason that Colman was pushing), so is that what we can therefore expect from Stuff as well? They’re so busy writing stories in anticipation of what is going to happen, that in order for these journalists to keep their jobs, we’re going to have to start
paying for this information?

It will be interesting to see what happens next. One question I do have though, what did OSH think about dangling someone from that building??
Stunt 2

UPDATED 11/8: Tell you what though, I'll give Stuff credit for breaking the Iceberg story - possibly not story of the century, but they were able to answer the questions no one else have been able to this morning.

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