Two-Way Street

Olympic Foreclosures and Journalistic Timing

Sometimes the success or failure of a headline depends on when you put it up. Case in point ...

Yesterday we had a story filed by one of our TV correspondents in Vancouver. It concerned the Whistler resort, a primary venue for many of the Olympic events, being on the verge of

Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games - A CNBC Special Report

foreclosure. Nice story and ideal for our audience. You can read it here: A Different Kind of Olympic Drama—Foreclosure.

But after we posted it ... and I was basking in the glow of cross-platform TV-Internet synergy and all that ... one of my Web site reporters came up to me and pointed out she had reported the very same story almost a month ago: Foreclosure—The Newest Event at the Vancouver Winter Olympics.

Except for the benefit of a televised interview, the two stories are virtually the same. But the later one actually performed better for us ... drawing more reader interest and getting picked up by some of our syndication partners.

That's somewhat counter to the general sense of the news business, where being first with an interesting story usually means being the most widely read or viewed. (Indeed, "I reported that hours/days/months ago" is a common boast among top-notch reporters ... or reporters looking to get an editor off a "chase this" assignment).

But a month ago people weren't so Olympic aware. Now with the skiers, sleds and skaters flying through the prime-time airwaves each night, the foreclosure news is a little bit more interesting to the public at large. Hence a little more click-interest in the headline.

Does that mean I'm not encouraging reporters to break it first? No way. But it does point up the importance of revisiting material when it's relevant.