Is it Only News if It’s Popular?

Dan Froomkin was fired from the Washington Post recently. He blogged for them and his traffic went down and he was fired. That much is clear. The Times article gives it a bit more nuance but Seth Godin essentially says it was because his traffic went down period and that its a sign of things to come. The implication at the very least was that it is a good thing. That in the digital age we don’t have to deal with poor uninteresting writing.

I hope that’s the case but I’m not so sure it is.

We get all kind of shootings reported on because apparently it gets ratings, people love to read entertainment news and gossip, michael jackson’s death was the biggest story since JFK’s death.

Is that news?

It’s popular sure and there’s absolutely something to be said for writing about topics people want to read about. However that doesn’t make it hard news, it doesn’t make it important. Maybe we need to find ways to present hard news in a more reader friendly way. But again, popular doesn’t make it important.

I guess at the end of the day running what’s actually popular may be a better thing then an editor deciding what they think is popular and running that. Lets just hope there’s enough demand for the important stuff that it doesn’t disappear.


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