12:39 pm Nov. 17, 2011
Today was (maybe) going to be a big day for Occupy Wall Street as the newspapers were making their plans in the early morning hours this morning.
But then, reporters have heard that before.
In her column for the Daily News today, Joanna Molloy lamented that she'd arrived at 8 a.m. at the Santiation Department garage where Occupiers were expected to show up and reclaim belongings confiscated during Monday night's clearing of Zuccotti park, only to find that there were plenty of police, plenty of reporters, and only four protesters. Conversely, reporters weren't given any warning of the actual park clearing Monday night, and weren't allowed on the grounds to report from the scene.
Still, while this morning's papers only suggest the possibility that thousands of protesters might cram every inch of the Financial District and several other neighborhoods and locations around town, from their websites it's clear who deployed serious manpower to cover the day once it was clear the protests would be big news, and who didn't. The News did, that is; the Post didn't.
(Funny enough, the former paper's plans for a press conference announcing its 29th annual "Daily News Readers Care to Feed the Hungry of New York" food drive were scuttled by the protests; editor-in-chief Kevin Convey and Daily News C.E.O. Bill Holliber were to appear with NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly and other city officials at the Duane Street fire station at 2:30 p.m., but both sides are too busy with protests this morning and postponed the event.)
Both paper's scratched their lead story for Occupy Wall Street coverage pretty early this morning, but as the arrests mounted well into the double digits, clicking through to each paper's online report showed the stark difference between the two papers' approaches.
The Post's package was directing readers to a double-bylined 490-word spot news item about arrests that were being made as "Hundreds of anti-Wall Street protesters got into skirmishes with cops this morning after attempting to march on the Financial District as part of a massive citywide demonstration marking two months since the movement began." There's a photo of a male protester being wrestled to the ground and slapped with plastic cuffs, as well as four links to related articles embedded in the text.
News readers, on the other hand, got an up-to-the-minute live-blog with contributions from at least seven reporters (by our count) that took you right to the scene of the action with dramatic photos and videos captured throughout the surrounding streets.
Live-blogs like this one are another sign of the News's increased investment in digital, which is seen both as a boon to its online ranking and a divisive measure within the rank-and-file. (There were no pink-slips handed to web staffers in the recent round of layoffs that ended up claiming about 20 newsroom jobs, including those of several old-school News reporters.)
As has been the trend at other major metropolitan dailies over the past few years, the News just completed an integration of its print and digital operations that Convey recently said will "make the company digital first, and make all of our content platform-agnostic."
Whereas at the Post, digital and print strategies are clearly just mirrors of each other, for the most part. The top stories on the front page of today's print edition will almost always be the top stories on the web at the same time.
The Post may have just as many reporters on the ground as the News, but that doesn't do the website much good if they are accumulating their notes to give to their editors just in time for the closing of tomorrow's print editions.
The News has always been different, tailoring its print front page to local commuters and its website to a national audience.
The Post's total average weekday circulation trailed the News' by almost 100,000 copies during the six months ended Sept. 30, according to Audit Bureau of Circulation data released several weeks ago.
But the gulf in monthly web traffic is even wider. The News' site finished October with more than 10 million unique visitors; the Post got just 6 million, according to comScore.
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