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The future of Philly journalism, Take Two

The new memo on Internet versus newspaper

As predicted yesterday, that controversial Inquirer memo about what stories should go on the Internet first and what should be held out for the newspaper is now what the Nixon White House would have called "inoperative" -- the new version of the memo from a Fab Four tag team headed by the Inquirer's top guy Bill Marimow pretty much gets it right. Here's the gist:

Our goal is to publish our content in our products in a thoughtful way. Use our powerful Web site for its reach, immediacy, ability to connect readers with each other and ability to build deep packages. And use our two newspapers because of their strong reputations, ease of use and ability to reach an audience who love and subscribe to the product.

So let's break as much news as we can online, particularly if it's a story, column or review that readers might get from another source, or that benefits from the strengths of the Web.

My only quibble is that the memo then has a long list seeking to spell out in detail what should be broken on the Web in advance and what shouldn't. Why get so tied down in rules? Many of the kinds of stories that the Inquirer wants to hold back from the Web until the morning that it's in the paper -- investigative reporting and columns, for example -- are exactly the kinds of articles that can be pumped up by using the Web to build interest. Why couldn't the author of a big scoop do a two-minute advance YouTube-style video to promote it? I've also become a strong believer in "crowdsourcing" -- which is investigative reporting the exact backwards way from how it's done at the Inquirer and at most newspapers, by letting everyone in the world know what you're working on and asking for reader tips and input. But at least this memo is a step forward, and not "Back to the Future IV."