Forget the snowman — build an igloo

Forget the snowman — build an igloo

Jay Rosen at PressThink came up with a funny tweet last week:

Jay Rosen on Twitter

It’s a clever way of pointing out that journalists are spending way too much time on stories that people can get anywhere — for free — on the Internet.

The lesson here is that the media need to stop making so many snowmen and start building more igloos — digging up valuable facts that shelter people from a chaotic world of misinformation, and telling readers about those facts with storytelling skills that grab them and don’t let go.

The Hearst investigative series “Dead by Mistake” is an example of an igloo. It took months of work, the stories went into chilling detail about a little-known problem, and when the stories were published in Hearst newspapers across the country, the project went social on Facebook and Twitter and YouTube and its own Web page. It created a unique resource for readers and opened up a conversation with them.

I’d say that’s worth $5.

This is why it’s so frustrating to watch media corporations, including Hearst, slash newsroom budgets. Journalists are still building igloos for readers, but it’s getting harder.

If newspapers decline to the point where we simply churn out snowmen all the time, readers are going to legitimately ask, why are we paying for this?