The paper reports today that archaeologists are fairly confident that they have discovered the last resting place of Christopher Columbus's flagship, the Santa Maria.
To call it a wreck might be overstating the find, since the ship was stripped of its timbers on Columbus's orders to build the fort La Navidad in Haiti. There can hardly be a restoration like the Mary Rose project, but interest in what's left of this little vessel should be enormous.
The timing of the find is unfortunate for the Indy, which has produced probably the best front page of the day in going all-out on the footage of the Nigerian schoolgirls being held captive. But it might have made more of a fuss in the puff.
SubScribe begs to differ. And this is a case in point. We're not talking here about the nonsense "exclusives" about celebrities that appear in three papers simultaneously, but about real stories that matter.
Who broke the MPs' expenses story, the phone hacking story, the tax evasion story? Everyone knows the answer because when you break an important story you have ownership of it. Of course everyone else will follow (well...eventually, in the case of phone hacking), so yes you can read a version anywhere. But readers knew where these stories originated and that is where they looked for more on the subject.
If your story sets the agenda for the Today programme, leads the ten o'clock news or catches the eye on Newsnight or Sky, it should bring you readers. Then it's up to you to convince them to stay tomorrow and the next day...
So how wise was the Independent today to bury its scoop? The paper is now selling barely 63,000 copies a day (47,000 full-price sales). That's way fewer than the Wolverhampton Express & Star. Yet it's a lovely little package, intelligently news edited and well designed, even if pressures on the production side show. If it can't lure people in with stories they won't find elsewhere and convince them to stay it has no hope.
For a start it's too expensive, at £1.40, especially when readers believe they can buy the i for 30p and get the same thing.
Except the i isn't the same thing. It is also a lovely little paper, bouncier and more streetwise than its big sister, but its buoyant circulation - which is 30% higher than the Guardian's - is down to one factor: price.
The i also carried the Santa Maria story - on its last news spread entitled "Panorama, around the world in ten stories". There was no mention of it on the front, nothing to say "look here, this is special". Nothing is special in the i. It describes itself as the "essential daily briefing" and that's what it is. Concise, easy to read, but with a level of intelligence inherited from the brainier sister.
It may be a more successful product, but what if the Independent weren't there? Would Steve Richards, Grace Dent, Robert Fisk or Yasmin Alibhai-Brown - stick around? Would David Keys, author of today's exclusive, or Steve Connor, who wrote yesterday's exclusive splash about soap-dodging being an aid to fertility, still be there? Owen Jones has already jumped ship, the others would likely follow, and the i would be left without the brains that set it apart from the other tabs.
So to return to Christopher Columbus, whose statue is above. If the story was ready to go yesterday, it should have been used. If it came in yesterday and was guaranteed not to get out in any other medium, then it should have been held. If it absolutely had to run today, the Indie should at least have produced a better puff.
A few bits of a very old ship aren't going to set the news agenda for weeks to come. But, whatever Felix Salmon thinks, it does matter that readers as well as journalists know that the Independent broke the story, that scientists of repute go to the paper in preference to the Telegraph., Times or Guardian.
It's a pretty scruffy rendition, with an ungrammatical headline, errors in text and a chunk of Wikipedia, all of which were noted in the comment stream.
But it still told the story, acknowledging the Independent in the sixth par and there were a couple of panels and a map on the discovery of the new world.
At the end there was a hyperlink tagline that looked like this:
Exclusive: Found after 500 years, the wreck of Christopher Columbus's flagship the Santa Maria.
It led to the original article from the Independent. Excellent.