Jay Rosen recently presented his own theory of scoops:
Type One: The enterprise scoop. “Where the news would not have come out without the enterprising work of the reporter who dug it out.”
Type Two: The ego scoop. “This is where the news would have come out anyway–typically because it was announced or would have been announced–but some reporter managed to get ahead of the field and break it before anyone else.”
Type Three: The traders scoop. “This is the most ambiguous of my categories. It recognizes that there can be situations in which, for the general public, ‘who got it first?’ is next-to meaningless, but for a special category of user–the traders, investors, arbitrageurs–minutes and even seconds can count.”
Type Four: The thought scoop. “The most under-recognized type of scoop is the intellectual scoop: ‘stories with new insights’ that coin terms, define trends, or apprehend–name and frame–something that’s happening out there… before anyone else recognizes it.”
In my rant Getting Scoops Is Not (Necessarily) the Same as “Doing Journalism”., I’m basically talking about the difference between what Rosen calls “enterprise scoops” and “ego scoops.” The thing is, ego scoops do matter financially to tech publications – the first blog to get a story will generally be rewarded with more traffic. Because of that, I don’t judge my fellow tech reporters chasing these sorts of scoops, in fact I do it myself. The unfortunate thing though is that the tech journalism community seems to have lost track of the difference between enterprise and ego scoops (as have quit a few other journalistic communities, I take it).
There can be a degree of luck involved in getting enterprise scoops as well. Being the in the right place at the right time when someone mentions something. A lot of the dirty work is actually done by non-profit “wachdog” organizations. But it also means recognizing a real story, and doing the digging and fact checking to turn it into something substantial and not just a quick hit gossip piece. It means developing sources so that you’re the person that gets a tip.