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The Internet: A Blessing And A Curse

09/20/2006 -02:00 AM

Having started my journalism career more than 10 years ago, I often wonder how I gathered information for my articles before the wide-spread use of the Internet. (In my first reporting job, I used a word processing program and had no Internet access at work).

Now fully acclimated to the Web, with top-notch, computer-assisted reporting skills (well, sort of), my first reporting job remains a mystery. How did I look up phone numbers? Find experts? Research topics? The Internet is great for all of that, but it has its drawbacks, as well.

Instantaneous, real-time news, often seen as blessing in the Internet age can be curse, as well. While it offers our audience news as it happens, it also sometimes frazzles the editors and reporters that try to keep up with what’s going in their respective industries and on their respective beats without getting beat by the competition.

Recently, someone tipped off Folio: that printing company, Banta quietly submitted an SEC filing last week announcing the closure of five plants, the elimination of more than 500 jobs, and that it would pay its shareholders a $16 per share special dividend that it would borrow money to pay for.

Great story, we thought when we found out on Tuesday of this week. I quickly found the document, wrote the story and (sigh) saved it for Thursday’s Folio: Alert.

Not a good idea. Stamford, Connecticut-based Cenveo today renewed the unsolicited takeover bid it made for Banta in August and criticized Banta’s SEC filing in a letter made public and sent to various media outlets.

We got scooped on our own scoop. Lesson learned, point taken. In the Internet age, research is easy, breaking news is hard and saving stories is unwise.

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