No more “front page”

This speaker at the conference I attended kept referring to landing great placements “on the front page.”

Each time he said it, the words clattered around the room like a Model T.

I had no previous aversion to the phrase “front page.” In fact, as a former newspaper journalist, I LOVE the front page :). I confess I still get two newspapers at home, my local paper and the WSJ. And of course I look at the front pages of both.

But when he was so proudly insisting on the preeminence of the front page, in the context of all the other presentations, it just seemed off. For instance, my talk was about using social media to engage with journalists and bloggers. And a big part of that is helping them promote their work online. Which has nothing to do with where the stories ran in the dead-tree newspaper.

So when I got home from the conference, I promptly erased the phrase from my website.

And I’m not the only one retiring it. This year none other than New York Times (which called the front page “Page One”) changed the name of its venerated daily meeting – the namesake of the 2011 documentary about the Grey Lady – from “Page One Meeting” to “4:30 News Meeting.” That’s because the editor wants the focus not on the placement of stories in the print edition, but prioritizing items for digital display and mobile accessibility.

Of course my point isn’t so much to banish the words from our vocabulary. It’s to replace our former emphasis on striving for prominent story placement with one on story shareability.

In the coming months I’ll have more for you on how to complete this shift.

This article was originally published on December 17, 2015

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