Phil Sim

Web, media, PR and… footy

Scoble: Let me tell you a bit about journalists…

You can always tell a really, strong argument when it’s based on the premise “A lot of the people I talk to”…

A couple of days ago, Robert Scoble posted this argument, arguing in favour of full-feeds and against a post made by fellow-Australian Duncan Riley, who has consistently argued in The Blog Herald that you can’t build a blog business using RSS feeds.

Firsly, it was nice to see Scoble actually post something of significance on his blog! It was actually a pretty well-argued and thoughtful piece, despite being fundamentall flawed.

To quickly paraphrase, Scoble admits that RSS advertising sucks right now, but it will get better and that some time in the future, a commercial model based on RSS advertising will eventually arise and the world will be a shiny, happy place. However, he’s managed to formulate an argument as to why you should use full-feeds today and it’s based on this line:

“You see, when I get together with journalists their RSS usage is WAY WAY WAY higher than the rest of the population. Journalists are like me. They sift through lots of information looking for the gems for their readers. That’s how they build audiences. RSS lets people read about 10 times the amount of content than if you just use a Web browser. That’s why journalists, connectors, bloggers, geeks who care about productivity, etc use RSS. It’s also why advertising in RSS isn’t yet working. These people aren’t good targets for loosely-targetted advertising.”

My business makes coin by providing information services to journalists and providing information about journalists to the marketing communications industry, so for once I can actually claim to know what I’m talking about here. And let me tell you, Robert, the first thing about journalists is that, unlike yourself, they’re not about to blackban a blogger simply because they don’t provide full-feeds. Journo’s don’t have the luxury of being precious about their information sources, like Scoble.

I can just see the scenario:
EDITOR: “How the f*ck, did you miss this story, Sim, you’re supposed to be all over this beat. What the f*ck am I paying you for”.
SIM: “Sorry boss, the story originated from a blog that only offered partial feeds, so I refuse to read it anymore. No links for them, I say!”.

Have a look at most journalists reading lists. Fifty bucks they’re all sources of authority (I’m sorry but journalists don’t read 855 blogs from people who in the end amount to Nigel Nobodies). RSS feeds are great for very quickly checking out what your competitors do or if people in positions of authority are saying anything interest. And you can work that out with one paragraph and even a headline if need be. Journalists very quickly develop an ability to sum up whether a piece of information is going to be of any use within about 3 seconds of opening it.

And let’s face it, how many people are going to get a story picked up by traditional press, anyway. If you do have a story on your blog that’s worthy of note in the New York Times, I’d highly suggest rather than posting a full-feed and hoping that one of their journalists has plugged you into the RSS feeder, that you send them an email and let them know why it’s important. I can guarantee you have a ten thousand percent better chance of having your little gem picked up because you know for certainty that each and every journalist reads their inbox.

Scoble signs off:

But, what do you think? Are content providers going to gain anything to tell connectors, journalists, bloggers to screw off?

What does Squash think? A really, good connector is someone who can connect you to people, places, ideas that you’d not have come across otherwise. Like a journalist, a really, good connector shouldn’t be precious about their information sources.

P.S. Any by the way, if you’re a blogger and you can’t get the primary gist of your article across with a headline and the first couple of pars, then go out and buy a Journalism 101 book. Tell me any professional media site that doesn’t rely on those two elements to let readers decide whether content is relevent or not. 

Filed under: Blogs, Feeds, XML/RSS/Atom

6 Responses

  1. Brad Corbin says:

    Ok, but speaking as one of the other 99% of the population that isn’t required by his employer to read RSS feed, I have to say that even though I am subscribed to a few partial feeds, I almost never read them, because they are a PAIN. Sure, it might be just an extra click (or two or three, depending on the aggregator), but it is a distraction, and gets you “out of the flow”.

  2. Interesting again. You might like the scoble story @ http://flocksucks.wordpress.com.

    And seriously, instead of concentrating on journalists, bloggers should concentrate on the regular viewers and increase that number, they are the gems.

    But Full-text feeds are going to spell doom for Probloggers.

  3. Alejandro says:

    I wonder how did he got the “buy my book” link on his sidebar…are those still “test” for furute themes as the one he is using now?

  4. Kevin says:

    holy crap, you have a good point here. don’t like, let it get to your head or anything (mister johnny come lately blog addict). We have a twelve step program we are working on to help those like yourself find an even ground on this.

  5. Rob Irwin says:

    Kevin, the amount of time someone’s been blogging, or not, doesn’t matter.

    Good work, Phil.

  6. [...] It’s almost been a week between posts but I figured this was the regression, Squash had to have. Looking back, Monty was pretty much on the money here. I think I went through a pretty bad case of blog burn-out, brought on by a maniacal greed for traffic. (Quite enjoyed Kevin from Pandora^2’s description of me as a ‘mister johnny come lately blog addict’ – didn’t need the 12 step program, though, just went cold turkey). [...]

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