“Dog bites man” is not news. “Man bites dog” is another story entirely. The idea that having the quality of the unusual is important, if not essential, to something being considered as news.
That thought is well understood, and the phrase has been a part of the journalism lexicon for more than 150 years. But how will it hold up in a day when two-way social media not only gives journalists a vehicle to convey news, but a channel to monitor and analyze whether a news item is resonating with the public?
A new press release from newsroom computer system vendor Octopus about the availability of some new system features introduced at IBC 2014 last month made me think of the proverbial poor pooch with human teeth marks.
The feature – an advanced social media hub- gives journalist a way to use social media, such as Twitter, to “track trending topics over different time periods to assess the importance and staying power of a particular news item,” the press release from Octopus said.
That sort of feedback can be invaluable in the newsroom, but it should never be a substitute for good editorial judgment. Nor should it encourage newsrooms to pander to the public’s fickle appetite for news about the trivial to the exclusion of relevant, “man-bites-dog” stories.