Wednesday, June 16, 2010

In the brave new world of 'content' driven media, originality and making sense is apparently optional

I admit that when I read some of the New Media websites that purport to be the cutting edge of modern journalism, written by 'gurus', supposedly, I just shake my head. Where is this taking us? Aggregation, outright stealing of stories, this may be what these 'leaders' think the future will hold, but readers will have their say, as well.  Aggregation is nothing new, essentially that has been the role of the wire services for years. But in today's media world educated human beings are no longer an essential part of the process.

One site I stumbled upon this morning may be the model of the new journalism. I won't provide links to the site, no reason to drive up their traffic, but here is a sampling of their latest headlines:

Soccer-World-beating North Korea, but in the group opens Unbowed End-North Korea World Cup News

A sequence of more, Westwood Holdings seeks last-Pebble Beach News

iPad offers hope to fight magazines last iPad News

As seems clear, there are no human beings behind the website, just feeds that apparently provide the headline and the copy. If you want to see the site yourself just Google the headlines.

'Google' is partly at fault here, of course. The search giant, for reasons hard to fathom, consider the site a 'news' site despite their lack of human beings creating any stories. Yet many bloggers, this one included, have their traffic severely limited by the fact that Google does not consider their site a 'news site' and so results do not show up prominently in a search.

Another site everyone in American media is familiar with simply steals copy and produces it whole, creating a massively popular media newsletter in the process. Very few complain -- after all, the guy is a regular speaker at industry events and another of those 'gurus' who are driving modern media into a ditch.

At the same time, however, I think there is opportunity in this situation. The market is being flooded with RSS readers, and mobile users are, for now, grabbing the apps by the handful and happily creating their own newspapers and magazines on their iPads and smartphones using these apps. But my guess is that this trend is temporary. Users of these feed readers soon discover that their iPads are filled with the same stories repeated endlessly by the feeds they bring in. The lack of curation, editing, and expert story selection is what users of these readers find missing -- hence the opportunity.