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Is Reader’s Digest a model for news aggregators of tomorrow? 6/3/08

Posted by Steve Boriss in ReadersDigest.
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Much of what will succeed in the future of news will be models lost over a century ago, long before those now crumbling before us. Among the fallen models will be pretensions that journalism is a science that delivers objective verified truths, obsessive focus on the public sector, and prejudice against sensational or non-serious stories.

And while modern journalists have typically dismissed Reader’s Digest as a lightweight publication, now would be a good time to study it for clues to the future. As MinOnline notes, in retrospect, the publication seems pretty web-savvy. It aggregated the best content from multiple sources, provided abridged content for quick and easy readership, and was best enjoyed when passed to family and friends. And I’ll throw in a couple more. Its old original cover contained a list of stories contained inside, allowing it to be read like a web site, from front page link to story and back again. And it knew its audience, providing a mix of serious, human interest, educational, and humorous stories. It was also upbeat, not providing stories that made readers feel uncomfortable, helpless, or negative. Reader’s Digest put its readers first, both in its content and its name. Comparatively, today’s news might be called “Journalist’s Digest.”

Comments»

1. nigel barlow - 6/4/08

I’ll add a couple-It sells most of its copy through subscription of which many are gifts for Xmas etc and it is surely has a reach of many more people that its purchasers eg doctor’s surgeries,thus attracting more advertising

2. Jon Ham - 6/6/08

Steve, I used to tell young reporters to study the writing in Reader’s Digest, especially the feature called “Drama in Real Life.” It was the kind of economical, no-frills, compelling writing one seldom sees anymore.


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