Robin Neidorf News Diligence: When "Good Enough" Just Isn't
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By Robin Neidorf

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FreePint's research documents what many information professionals sense -- that free sources of news are increasingly used in the enterprise as "good enough" for most purposes. However, there are times when "good enough" isn't enough, and it's essential for a researcher to know when those are... and to have the right tools to hand.


I've been surveying corporate information managers and researchers for five years about their organisational needs and preferences with regard to news content. The project has enabled FreePint and its readers to develop awareness on the tensions that drive corporate purchasing of news content.

Every year, responses to questions on the relative importance of no-cost and fee-based resources demonstrate a battle between accepting "good enough" resources (particularly when budgets are reduced) on the one hand, and the value that information professionals know they get from news products on the other. Information professionals report to us that they know premium news providers offer better search, more targeted results, more flexible output options and a host of other features that save them and their client time. AND they also report that usage of free tools continues to grow. (More analysis can be found at this FreePint Feature story.)

The concept of the "good enough" resource is not a new one, but it has gotten special attention in the past several budget cycles. And the reality is that a lot of news needs can be addressed through good enough resources.

But there are plenty of times when "good enough" is distinctly not enough. The articles in this ebook highlight only a few of the situations in which taking the extra time (or money) to make sure you have valid, useful information is the only smart thing to do:

  • Unfamiliar Territory: This can be either literal or figurative. If the news relates to a part of the world, an aspect of business or an environment wholly new to you, you need a trusted guide to events that affect that territory and your business in it. Are there political or social implications to the news that you are not aware of? If what you don't know about the territory holds potential risks for you and your business, relying on "good enough" may well add to the risks.
  • Contradictory or Unbelievable Facts: In my university philosophy class, we debated if there can be immutable truths; I never thought we'd be asking the same questions about news reports. But sloppy fact-checking, human error, and at times outright deception can create what appear to be news reports in direct contradiction to each other. As ordinary consumers, we can choose what we want to believe; as researchers with a responsibility to decisions based on facts, we have an obligation to dig more deeply.
  • Pass It On: We don't like to talk about it much, but the free sources are just not intended for organisational use. The Terms & Conditions most of us click through with barely a blink (or more likely accept through default through use of the site) make very clear that they are intended for individual, non-commercial uses. If you need to share, cite, archive, copy or quote, it's best to know you are covered by an appropriate usage contract.

Relying too long and too exclusively on "good enough" resources can dull your wit to the possibilities for "best of breed" resources. Yes, those budget tensions show no sign of going away, but perhaps the insights and tips in this ebook will help you make the case for keeping "premium" part of the portfolio.

The three recent articles mentioned include:

FreePint Subscribers can login now to view them.

You can also request a free ebook, sponsored by BBC Monitoring, including these articles.

Please complete this form to request your copy.

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