aggregators and Web feeds are leading to the demise of
the exclusive news report. In fact, in many cases it is
no longer the publication actually breaking a news story
that gets the attention of these aggregators, but
instead a copycat who most recently published the story.
Google has a service called Google News (see related
story). It is arranged by
subject and based on when stories are published, with
the most recently published article at the top. So when
a story breaks, it can be the second or third report
that reaches the top of the pile, not the article that
brought the subject to light.
states that it takes more than “most recent” into
account when compiling its lists. The search engine is
said to use an algorithm that weighs several factors
including the authoritative nature of the publisher,
first to break, and page rank. However, in many cases it
appears that substantive weight is given to page rank
and how recent an article is.
economics of this type of aggregation are unsettling.
Whereas an exclusive would propel readership and sell
more advertising in the “old” days, today it’s almost
the opposite. The reporters and publishers of the
exclusive story will find their article on the bottom of
the list of articles covering the subject – usually the
last to be clicked on. This means fewer readers, and
less exposure to the advertising next to the story.
trend continues, consider the possible repercussions to
the media industry. Why pay top reporters big bucks to
uncover stories that will be gobbled up by the
competition? Why invest the time and effort to uncover a
breaking story, only to see the rewards go to the person
reporting on your story?