There has been talk across the Atlantic this week about making journalist’s primary source material and transcipts more readily available online.
Washington Post economic and domestic policy blogger Ezra Klein has called for transcipts to be used alongside traditional write ups, and Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has criticised the media for not making use of the huge amount of space available online to host source material.
Klein says: “It’s safer to have your full comments, and the questions that led to them, out in the open, rather than just the lines the author thought interesting enough to include in the article.”
I couldn’t disagree more.
The main point of a journalist is that you, as a consumer, don’t NEED to read through 10 pages before getting to the point.
It is a journalist’s responsibility to tell you the who, what, where, why, when and how in the first couple of paragraphs – not hidden within a 15 minute interview spiel.
Also, there may be the space there to host the material – but what about the audience to read it?
I have no idea who would read a transcript – which often (if you’ve had the pleasure of transcribing anything) doesn’t make sense, has people talking over each other and is full of pauses, ums, ahs and corrections.
So, what it would perhaps mean in reality, is that journalists would need to turn every last word of an interview into a feature, or at least write it up in a way that is easy to digest for the reader.
Of course, there may be some exceptions – you may get the odd interviewee who is full of top information, which they express in a way that is interesting and engaging.
But it’s highly unlikely that there are enough of them to enable publishing transcripts online to become the norm.
Also, what about the interviewees themselves?
They are trusting (sometimes naively it must be said) that the journalists can turn their rambles into something useful.
Many would cringe at the thought of their unpolished answers being bared for the whole world to see.
Sounds great right?
Especially considering they are retailing at a massive £499 in normal stores – most of which are already sold out.
The site had just 200 of the handsets on sale, but when the deal opened at 9.30am this morning 5 million users attempted to log in to get their hands on the cut price phone.
Subsequently the site crashed – resulting in problem number one.
This lead to an outburst on Twitter, with many consumers assuming the deal was fake – becoming problem number two.
But, as Real Business reports it’s not the deal, or either of those problems that is under scrutiny – it’s the way in which the site went about advertising the deal in the first place.
Consumers’ main gripe is that they had to pre-register their interest for the iPhone 4 by signing up to Groupola’s daily alerts. This is the main problem. If Groupola had just held it as a regular daily deal (where you don’t have to pre-register for Groupola’s marketing emails), I’m fairly confident the backlash would have been less strong. Don’t forget that Groupola claims to have received over five million hits this morning – so that’s a lot of people signing up to Groupola’s daily email alerts.
Fair point I suppose (though if the site hadn’t frozen would the backlash have happened at all?)
To be honest I feel a bit bad for Groupola – it was a great deal, but one where supply would always be far outweighed by demand. But they were very honest with the terms – there would be a limited amount available and to have a chance you had to sign up to the email alerts.
A two minute online form and a daily email (which you can unsubscribe from easily) seems to me a very small price to pay for the chance to win, and I’m sure the 200 lucky winners aren’t complaining.
But it does create an interesting question.
When does a good marketing ploy become bad customer service?