Staff at Bobballs noticed that The News Letter website is running online stories from across the Johnston Press group in Northern Ireland.
They may have been running group stories before now, but surely this is only a recent innovation. So what could this mean?
In our view, a newspaper which is heavy with PA copy is a newspaper in trouble (no resources to generate in-house, independent copy – consequently the paper gets a generic feel and loses uniqueness/brand flavour, which leads to sales slump, which means fewer resources for editorial, whic results in greater dependence on PA copy, which leads to a generic feel and… etc etc).
Similarly, is pooling online stories within a group a signal that resources are tightening?
Or maybe a good story should be shared between group outlets? But we do doubt that a story about council staff and a big quote from a councillor who abstained in the vote is really a stand out story. Was the decision to run this editorial, or financial?
We don’t really like syndicated copy (Robert Fisk/Kevin Myers are a waste of valuable Bel Tel space. I can get them online in their original form). But we wonder how many other stories from across the Johnston Press Group will find themselves into the News Letter website. Is this a trend towards syndicated online copy? Publishing fewer news stories will over time result in a reduced need for nuzhounds – so this may be indicative of something bigger. These are tough times.
We can only wait and find out.