Can newspapers scoop themselves online?

With the Telegraph now in its new hub-and-spoke newsroom and “integration” the buzzword at Wapping, tensions between newsprint and onlne editions may become increasingly evident. Where might editors be going for guidance when it comes to publishing exclusives? Donna Shaw examines the position for the American Journalism Review

On the night of May 28, beer magnate and onetime Republican US Senate candidate Pete Coors was driving home after a wedding reception when he allegedly ran a stop sign around the corner from his home in Golden, Colorado. Police pulled him over in his driveway, gave him a blood-alcohol test and later arrested him on charges of driving under the influence of alcohol.

Weeks later, a tipster leaked the news to the Denver Post. The Post‘s response to the information underscores the dramatic changes sweeping the journalism industry: It decided to run the exclusive first on its Web site ( on July 13 instead of waiting until the next morning’s paper.

It’s not so long ago that such a decision would have been deemed heresy. The Post, traditionalists would have exclaimed, had foolishly “scooped itself.”

But in today’s crowded and competitive media landscape, with newspaper companies repositioning themselves as information conglomerates that disseminate news via everything from ink-on-paper to the Internet to PDAs to cell phones, the move made perfect sense.

It’s also a reminder that the definitions of “scoop” and “exclusive” are evolving in the era of convergence. The Internet makes it much more dicey to hold a news story until your next edition; chances are greater than ever that someone will beat you to it. So investigative, enterprise and project stories have become the primary exclusives to be held for the print version.

Post Editor Gregory L. Moore says increased competition from mainstream journalists as well as bloggers means that breaking news generally belongs on the Web. “My definition of a scoop has changed in the sense of how long you think you have a story exclusively,” he says. “If you have a story for an hour, you need to make the most of that hour.”

Says Jonathan Dube, a vice president of the Online News Association and publisher of “In this day and age, it would be foolish for any newspaper company to just think of itself as a ‘newspaper’ company and not a media company. The notion that a company like the Denver Post could ‘scoop’ itself is ridiculous and narrow-minded.”

Read the rest of this fascinating examination of the current situation within journalism by clicking here.

What role for sub-editors in the new media world? Click here.

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