Fighting Aggregation Smoke With Aggregation Fire

Washington Post executive editor Marty Baron chats with The Guardian.

MartyBaronTwitterPicWhen we wrote earlier this year about the extensive recent operational changes at CBSSports.com, we pulled from Jason McIntyre’s excellent report the following:

Mark Swanson, the former managing editor at CBSSports.com, says, emphatically, “no consumers give a shit who breaks stories. Everyone has them within minutes. We thought there was value, but there’s none. This isn’t opinion. This is empirical.”

It’s a remark that has stayed with us ever since (and there are of course, within sports and beyond, the occasional exceptions). Today, in an interview with The Guardian’s James Silver, Washington Post executive editor Marty Baron (pictured) addresses the same general issue by recalling one of his earliest conversations with owner Jeff Bezos:

One area Bezos was especially keen that Baron address was the issue of aggregation. “One of the first questions he asked was: ‘You do these long narratives, these deep investigations, but after you’re published, within 15 minutes, half a dozen websites have decided to aggregate you – and they get more traffic than you do. How do you propose to deal with that?’” Baron’s solution was, in effect, to fight fire with fire; hiring in-house bloggers, not only did the Post start aggregating itself, but it began aggregating other people’s content too.

Is it working? Yes. Alongside the Post’s original reporting, this approach–as Silver notes in his piece–helped the Post reach 83.1 million multi-platform U.S. unique visitors in September, a new record. Read the rest of Silver’s piece here, which extensively addresses the paper’s Donald TrumpBilly Bush scoop.

Image courtesy: Twitter