Shrinking news cycles and ever-diminishing deadline horizons have caused anxiety and a frenetic need to perform faster, but does that actually get us anywhere? A recent article in the Columbia Journalism Review examines the increasing pressures on news organizations to provide instant, qualified, and credible information to a world that counts cycle times in seconds instead of days or hours.

The author calls the current journalism trend of doing more with less - and faster - as the Hamster Wheel. He considers this exercise "motion for motion's sake." Is all the news really fit to print? Do we need information on what a political candidate eats for breakfast? How are news features and headlines being decided?

According to the article, the traditional approach of chasing a story because of its potential impact and newsworthiness has become secondary to how effective the story can be in attracting readers and generating Web hits. This need to provide constant and increasingly frenetic news reporting has reporters eschewing investigative reports and looking for the quick hit.

Story counts in traditional news markets are rising, while the number of reporters and editors is declining. The author states that the industry hit a point of diminishing returns in 2002. He points out that newspapers are not wire services, and that wire services are not blogs. But the differences are becoming more difficult to ascertain.

The opportunity here for marketers? With less staff and less time, news organizations are depending more on credible sources for information. This means that PR organizations that have established strong relations with the media have an opportunity to help reporters by providing story ideas and information.