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California Watch Editorial Director: Exclusives No Longer That Important

CAWatch-Small.jpgCalifornia Watch is a Center for Investigative Reporting spinoff that’s pioneering a new model for reporting on statewide news. Today, CW’s editorial director, Mark Katches, wrote a post on the site’s blog, spelling out some of the organization’s unorthodox approaches for getting its stories out.

One of the most interesting revelations: The move away from exclusivity. CW’s recent report about California’s shrinking school year ran in nearly 20 newspapers, radio stations, TV stations, and online sites. Even more interesting, some of the outlets released the story days after it first was first published elsewhere.

Says Katches:

In the old days… news organizations… competed fiercely with one another to be first…. [Today,] we’re seeing more pragmatic editors who recognize that it doesn’t really matter if a California Watch story appears in San Francisco a week before it runs in Riverside. Readers in Oxnard probably aren’t reading the Santa Rosa Press Democrat—either in print or online….

That basic reality has liberated editors to run local versions of our stories several days after the embargo date. The extra time allows them to prepare deeper, localized versions for their own market…. In some cases, editors simply want to wait until they have more space to do the story justice. Or they want to release it on a slower news day when they could really use a good story.

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