This Poynter post about Patch removing content from its sites has had me bothered all week. It just doesn’t sit right and raises a lot of questions about what we do with all of our content if things really go south.
The problem, for me anyway, is maybe that we’re calling it content. I know that, technically, it is. And if you call it content, it makes it easier to erase. Because all content does is take up space, and when that space is no longer serving its purpose — bringing in eyes, and clicks, and some sort of advertising money — you clear it out, like doing the dishes after Thanksgiving. The house is a wreck, you clean it up, and it’s like it never happened by the time you call it a night.
But if you start calling it journalism — which it is — it’s a little more tricky. Andrew Beaujon links in that Poynter post to an essay on Medium about trying to archive his work from TBD.com when it shut its doors and asks if deleting content ever affects anyone besides those who work there. I think it does. Sure, you might not need to go back and read every news article about, say, a government shutdown, but news like that should be saved. Not just for reference or history’s sake, but because a lot of times, good journalism is also teaching or telling you about something new. It’s a resource. Not just a portfolio.
Then again, I save everything. But it’s not like it’s stacks of Sunday editions. Am I being sentimental?