As more film news sites pop-up each day, the rabid cannibalization of content becomes all the more obvious. It is not just a few– sadly almost all sites are guilty of this–some are just worse than others.
Editors need to take ownership of their sites, stop accepting mediocrity, and prove they have a voice worth listening to.
Of course, these are news sites, and by definition must keep up with what is happening in the film industry. They serve a purpose, and most sites do at least mention their source. Yet this is not the issue. What is more worrying and frustrating is the fact that for the most part there is no originality of thought.
It has come to a point where some sites are simply posting press releases, without any opinion or analysis. It must be frustrating at times for talented writers, as no one wants to write their spin on the latest Katherine Heigl film trailer. However, the site owners and editors should be allowing and pushing their writers to write more original content.
The tenth article in a month about the latest casting rumours on The Hunger Games may get hits, but original content starts conversations. In fact, often original content sparks debates between sites, it causes one writer to respond with more original content on their own site. An opinion piece will take more time for the writer to complete, yet if original and interesting it can garner far more hits than a quick post on the two-second preview of latest Twilight film.
Within an hour of one site breaking a major, or even minor story, dozens of other sites have posted their copycat articles. More often than not, the other articles are nearly identical.
Some may argue that this is easy for me to say, and it is. I can write original content as my site is not a news site, nor is it a source of income for me. And while I am not suggesting the big film news sites produce only original content, editors demanding that their writers write original content would be beneficial to the entire film community. At a time when film criticism has largely become film summarization, the online outlets could be the perfect place to publish and find real opinions and original thought.
I do not want to point fingers and sound bitter; many sites do post original material, unfortunately it is too few and far between. It is a shame that many talented writers waste their time summarizing countless press releases, because that has become the industry norm.
These sites employ writers who are capable of writing great original material—editors have to show the way.