One of the problems often cited in the wars over The Future of Journalism is that too much of what journalists create is ordinary, mundane, commodity information. And that may well be true.
The problem is that to create those great investigative blockbusters often requires lots of mundane reporting to surface key facts or trends. Plus, as a practical matter, no organization – or person – can create blockbusters at the rate needed to put food on the table.
And yet covering the school board is important – if only because every now and then something important will happen, and if no one is there that day covering the daily mundane activities, we’ll miss it.
But there can also be value in that mundane coverage, if we learn to structure it right, so that the aggregate value of all this mundane stuff can be recreated into something more interesting – the metastory, if you like, of what’s happened over the last six months at the school board.
A reporter, of course, could just do the research and write the what-happened-in-the-last-six-month story every six months, but that means there are huge gaps in the record; and that a reader coming five months after the last story was written is heavily underserved. Better then to build the story a day at a time, so that it’s always as up-to-date as it can be.
And that values the day-in, day-out work of the mundane.