Scoops are important to journalists. But do readers care? Some writers persist in thinking so. I can't remember ever seeing such backbiting over a humdrum funding announcement: Kara Swisher of AllThingsD scooped everyone last Friday with a rumor that Slide, Max Levchin's Web widget maker, was raising a big funding round. Sarah Lacy of BusinessWeek had more details of the $50 million round in an already-written column published to the Web after Swisher's post. Brad Stone of the New York Times weighed in that afternoon. And that's when the knives came out.
Swisher, aggrieved at the lack of recognition for her scoop, accused BusinessWeek and the Times of running "hand-fed" stories, a charge Lacy and Stone's editor denied. (Lacy told me she'd known since the previous Sunday, but had held the information for her column; Stone's editor told Swisher his meeting with Slide that morning was previously scheduled.)
On Silicon Alley Insider, Henry Blodget, Lacy's cohost on Yahoo's soon-to-be-launched TechTicker finance show, came to her defense, dismissing PaidContent as an "aging, LA-based digital news blog."
Oh, and somewhere along the way, I managed to write a story on the subject without calling anyone names.
All of which shows how petty bloggers can be, and none of which answers the question of whether this matters to readers. My suspicion: Only to the extent that they may pass over a story they feel they've read elsewhere first. Google News actively punishes scoops, presenting news on a given subject by the most recent article written, a practice which encourages follow-on news articles and blog posts — and, for that matter, makes it hard to discover who actually broke a given story. Techmeme tends to favor the person who writes with most authority, drawing links from other blogs.