Who is your competition?

When you’re in the battle for your lives, you must know who the competition is.  If you’re focusing on the wrong target, you’re not only going to miss, you’re going to be an open target yourself.

It didn’t surprise me that the first responses to this post about newspapers sharing coverage responsibilities was basically this: We can’t work with them; they’re the competition. (Second most common response below.)

I appreciate that sentiment. It has been around for years. But that form of competition is dead. Love live the new competition.

First, the old competition. When newspapers were the only game in town, sure, there was intense competition. Even when TV news came on the scene, newspapers competed to be first on the story. It meant something when you broke a story first: the other newspapers would be forced to wait 24 hours until the next edition came out to match it. Boy, those were the days.

Now, of course, newspaper reporters are competing with everyone who has a blog, a smartphone, a Facebook account or who tweets. And all of you are competing with the cat videos, the Upworthy posts and funny memes.

The fact is that readers don’t care. They pay no attention to bylines. They don’t care that a story is an exclusive, a label that last about five seconds before the story spread on the Internet.

Instead, what newspapers need to worry about is getting the most relevant and compelling story. What you lose in “beating the competition,” you gain in creating content that is indispensable and unique. At least that’s the idea.

The second most common response: a consortium allows companies to lay off more people. Newspaper companies don’t need another excuse to lay off people.

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