The purpose of watching news on TV has always been to be informed, to better know the world you live in and stay connected with whatever is going on. But it depends heavily on what you watch. Sometimes you may end up knowing even less than when you first opened the television set. Why? Because most of the things you see on television during news are tailored for show in order to grab attention.
To be Informed Means to be Powerful
How are we, the public, going to make informed decision of any kind if we do not have access to hard data and reliable information? The Christian Science Monitor went a little further and published a story called “Are you smarter than a Fox News views? How about a CNN viewer?” The site attached a quiz which includes questions like this:
Is it your impression that most economists who have studied it estimate that the stimulus legislation:
A. Saved or created several million jobs
B. Saved or created a few jobs
C. Caused job losses
Basically, what the survey found is that news viewers don’t really get the story straight and confuse critical details regarding economy let’s say, or related health issues. This is probably why most people have moved onto the Internet to get their news, pulling the plug on the TV and its Kim Kardashian infused novelties. Over the past year, the mainstream media has been experiencing a drop in audience. CNN, for example has witnessed a 50% drop in viewership while Fox News dropped 17%.
So, there you have it, people have decided to move online, but the question is, in this virtual world, how is information distributed? How can you compare in order to get the best information available? The answer is news aggregators! For those who don’t know, these are sites that pile up all sorts of information. Some might be single-person sites like the Drudge Report, for example, that evolve into massive conglomerates. Most of these aggregators also specialize on one particular type of news. Drudge, for example, is political.
Content Curation, News Filtering For Sane Brains
With the need for cleaner and more informative content, the technique of content curation has evolved in order to help discover, gather and present digital content that surrounds a specific subject matter. Slowly content curation is becoming a marketing staple for most of the online based companies. News is evolving quickly into something very local and extremely specialized and news aggregators are driving the process in a way.
Another pure aggregator is Techmeme, a site that combines a set of perfect principles to get the job done perfectly for everybody. It relies on a lot of sources and uses an interestingly efficient algorithm that uses 600 parameters. And the most important feature could be considered the fact that you get a human editing layer as well, that should get you a better fine tuning of the site’s content. In the tech sector, Techmeme is doing such a good job that it could easily beat Google News as the latter sometimes lacks precision and selectiveness.
News Agreggators Need to Improve Their Selection Skills
Google News and Google Reader have remained, however, quite popular amongst the news searching population around the Internet. Google Reader allows for a whole host of feeds to be added to the personal list that can be organized and arranged by topic of interest. Plus it’s completely free. However, Google News is obviously much more different than Google News is because it allows you to put your own websites and browse for the content that you wish. Google News is place where not every website gets and they need to pass a thorough application process.
Another recent content aggregator that seems to be slightly different and made from a different angle is Wavii. It boasts the capability of bringing together the most important data out there. You should really try it out, it’s somehow similar to Facebook’s wall, only that you have there topics/section that you are most interested in. After, that, when you check your Wavii account, you’ll see fresh news in almost every hour. The thing is, from what I managed to observe, that Wavii is pretty bad at finding the source, the first blog that reported or found the news. Wavii is still in Beta, so I’m not making my final judgment. I’ll keep a close eye on their website.
Content Curation, The Art of Online Information
But the question remains, will users abandon their habits and move towards the new available ways. Most people already have a few favorite sites they get their information from, like Twitter, Facebook, Google News/Reader, The New York Times and so on. It’s quite difficult for smaller sites to infiltrate into people’s preferences and the big boys end up calling the shots. Even so, aggregators are just getting started, so in the future, people might be willing to try something else if it turns out to be smart and efficient.
I’m browsing daily at least 500 articles so I can tell you from my own experience that there are so many stories that don’t get picked up by websites like Techmeme, Google News or many others. Why? Because content curation is still in its incipient years. We all have to agree that there’s simply way too much information in the online environmnent. Being able to curate the content, get rid of superfluous information and deliver news that really matter is a bit of a tricky job. I am an advocate of insightful, interesting content but I also strongly support consumer’s need to be informed.
Why are the Big Boys Favoured in News Selection?
Give me a good coder, a little cash and I promise you that I’ll make a news aggregator (focused on consumer technology, *cough*) that you’ll fall in love with. I hate Google News because they reject us sometimes for stupid reasons; I’m frustrated with Techmeme that they don’t pick my thought provoking bits and instead decide to report (often useless) articles written by the big boys. Online content doesn’t belong to behemoth websites or those that are already established. Obviously, they have one of the finest writers and strategists in the market but that doesn’t mean everybody else is garbage!
Others needs to be given a chance, too. Content curation, news aggregation shouldn’t be only about collecting latest news from the most important websites out there. It should be about collecting the most interesting, useful, insightful news from all over the place. That requires many skills and a good eye. I hope there will appear one day, a news aggregator that could transform content curation into art; an aggregator that would help starting bloggers become online stars in a matter of days. And the hope lives on.