Wednesday, July 18, 2007

I Only Have Two Hands

"I only have two hands" was an expression my mother used often when I was a child and it seems to come back to me quite a bit these days while I'm on the job. The problem is, we have become amazing multi-taskers, but I'm beginning to wonder how well you can do any one thing when you're doing eight different things at once at any given moment.

That's how many browser windows I usually have minimized on my desktop, at least. Today, I was on a conference call when an video tape editor came in and asked if I was ready to capture a video. I dropped the phone (on hold) as I got a Digital Rapids stream going, which was fine, but I had also been sending an instant message, checking my emails, trying to post and pop stories, all at the same time.

At the end of the day, then, I am sometimes a bit exasperated because I don't feel there is any one thing I can point to and say, "Ah. That was a job well done."

Actually, last week there was a four-hour hearing on Capitol Hill where the National Transportation Safety Board released its report on a fatal accident in a Big Dig tunnel which occurred last summer. I was freed up enough to "cover" that particular story for our site and it was nothing short of delicious to be able to focus completely on one story and really give it the attention it deserved. Naturally, it was the story that garnered the most page views that day and all of last week. picked it up as well. I was able to give it thoughtful attention and it reflected a better quality than most of the crash & burn stories that are often all we can muster in a day crammed with a million other responsibilities. We spend countless hours digitizing videos that no one watches. It just doesn't make sense.

What it all says to me is that news web sites need dedicated news staffers whose sole mission is to cover the news of the day and (ideally) to enterprise the kinds of stories that TV and other mediums might not touch. I hope that is the way this business is evolving, but it's a long slog as we try to get there.

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