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The need to rebundle unbundled news content may lead to a heroic new role for journalists 5/21/07

Posted by Steve Boriss in News aggregators, News Associators, Unbundling.
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Nick Carr pulls an interesting excerpt from David Weinberger’s new book, Everything is Miscellaneous. “For decades we’ve been buying albums. We thought it was for artistic reasons, but it was really because the economics of the physical world required it: Bundling songs into long-playing albums lowered the production, marketing, and distribution costs…. As soon as music went digital, we learned that the natural unit of music is the track. Thus was iTunes born.” Similarly, we have recently learned that the natural unit of news is the story, not the newspaper or half-hour newscast. And, today’s iTunes equivalents are aggregators like Yahoo news, the Drudge Report, and bloggers. In the future of news, this news aggregator role might be the most exciting area for development – a “primordial soup” from which most future news outlets will evolve. Thankfully for journalists, and unlike the silly predictions in the fictional Museum of Media History’s “EPIC 2014” video, this role cannot be effectively performed by computers, but will require real judgment, real opinion, and a real sense of personal relationship between news aggregator and audience. The best “News Associators,” as I call them, will function more similarly to great 19th and 20th century editors like Joseph Pulitzer and Horace Greeley, than the faceless algorithms of Google News.

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1. Larry - 5/22/07

As I read your blurb, it reminded me of what the now discredited Susan Page (USA Today) did, was it last year (how time flies!)? She reworked a December NY Times story on the major phone companies cooperating with the government on the Terrorist War – put it on the front page of an Apr/May USA Today issue as if it was ‘new’…only to find herself having to back off just a few days later as the phone companies pointed out that what she described never happened (and the retraction wasn’t even under her byline!). Anyway, that form of news ‘aggregation’ is not what you are talking about, but it IS fun to watch the MSM struggle with The Future of News!


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