Online User-Driven News Gives Mainstream Media A Run - InformationWeek
IoT
IoT
Software // Information Management
News
9/12/2007
07:08 PM
Connect Directly
LinkedIn
Twitter
Google+
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Online User-Driven News Gives Mainstream Media A Run

A new survey finds sites like Del.icio.us, Digg, and Reddit give readers a more diverse choice of topics, but do they accelerate the "dumbing-down of news"?

While it remains to be seen whether user-driven news sites will make traditional news editors obsolete, those who contribute to social news sites clearly make different editorial choices than their professional counterparts.

A report released on Wednesday by the Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ) compared what the mainstream media considered to newsworthy for one week -- the week of June 24 to June 29, 2007 -- with the news selected by user-driven news sites during that same period.

While the mainstream media focused on Iraq and the debate over U.S. immigration, the three leading community news sites -- Del.icio.us, Digg, and Reddit -- featured stories about Apple's iPhone and Nintendo's net worth surpassing Sony's.

"In short, the user-news agenda, at least in this one-week snapshot, was more diverse, yet also more fragmented and transitory than that of the mainstream news media," the PEJ said. "This does not mean necessarily that users disapprove or reject the mainstream news agenda. These user sites may be supplemental for audiences. They may gravitate to them in addition to, rather than instead of, traditional venues. But the agenda they set is nonetheless quite different."

The PEJ appears to be making an effort not to characterize its findings, as per journalistic tradition. It refers to the sources user news sites draw on -- seven out of 10 stories on user news sites come from blogs or Web sites like YouTube or WedMD -- as "strikingly different" from those of the mainstream media. Not good, not bad, just ... different.

Author and tech blogger Nicholas Carr observes no such niceties in writing about the PEJ's findings.

"When you replace professional editors with a crowd or a social network, you actually end up accelerating the dumbing-down of news," he said. "News becomes a stream of junk-food-like morsels. The people formerly known as the audience may turn out to be the people formerly known as informed."

What the PEJ and Carr neglect to consider is the extent to which professional editors, now armed with data detailing which stories get hits and which don't, are contributing to the dumbing-down of news (or, arguably, its improvement) by choosing to cover topics that get lots of readers (and thus better ad revenue) rather than the topics that are less popular but more "newsworthy."

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
To learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
2017 State of the Cloud Report
As the use of public cloud becomes a given, IT leaders must navigate the transition and advocate for management tools or architectures that allow them to realize the benefits they seek. Download this report to explore the issues and how to best leverage the cloud moving forward.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on InformationWeek.com for the week of November 6, 2016. We'll be talking with the InformationWeek.com editors and correspondents who brought you the top stories of the week to get the "story behind the story."
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll