For every step forward taken in bridging the gap between traditional print and online media, there are two steps backward every time the words "Sign of the Times" are uttered. Such is the case with a recent debate about the merits and downfalls of news aggregators.
It turns out that news aggregation, that is the "meta role of repackaging" content that is "already out there" (or that's at least how Adage
refers to it) is killing journalist's integrity. Whereas there used to be "articles written by big-name, big-dollar contributors who spent weeks or even months reporting and crafting their stories" now there are only a "few editors to handpick stuff already kicking around the internet that will be ranked or graded, perhaps in some slickly designed graph".
O how the mighty have fallen.
Considered to be the equivalent of outsourcing, aggregating news
, is seen as a necessary evil. It helps to cater to the user's lack of time and attention and it helps to generate revenue. But with it comes the caveat that it cheapens the content.
Content become "used" and therefore undesirable. At the core, it's not the value of the content that is really the problem, it's not knowing how the content will be created or by whom.
Which leads us back to the amateur vs. expert
debate about online journalism. Whose content is more likely to get picked up? The amateur lacks the integrity to sell content to the highest bidder, therefore it's sold for less than "real" journalism and picked up by more sites as a result.
But is amateur content the best, most reliable content? Research
shows that users trust blogs just as much as they trust newspaper content, perhaps more, because of the culture of sharing.
At the end of the day, web-based journalism
is subject to unconventional methods in an ever-changing, evolving Web. That's what makes it exciting and innovative.
News aggregation shouldn't be looked at as an appraiser of content, but as a mechanism for pushing out content to a wider audience, who can then decide its value.