Social Sites Decentralizing News
This isn’t news. It’s been clear for a while now that with the rise of blogs and other user-generated information, professional journalism (especially the stuff that comes on paper) is losing clout. As the influence of large sites like New York Times online and CNN fall, smaller news sites are on the rise. The unexpected side of this is that these sites are, in fact, reputable.
All over the world, there are small news sites that either cover a very specific niche or simply don’t have the resources to outdo media behemoths with brute force. What these sites have now that they didn’t before is the power of the crowd. For the entire history of news, the size of a news source’s following was based entirely on the consistency of quality content that it provided. While this is still a very vital piece of the puzzle, an individual piece of content can boost a site (much like reporters trying to break a big story first for personal gain) to new heights. Why?
Social sites such as digg and reddit have created the perfect news source: one that doesn’t publish any of its own news. These sites (and Twitter as well, though news is much more diluted here) let users decide what is or is not a top story. On digg and reddit, users may submit links to any kind of page, then categorize and submit. Other users then find the link on the site and either vote it up or down. Stories that are voted up enough show up on the front page of the site, and the story becomes viral. Because of this development in the way people access their news, it is the story, not the source that matters.
But what about reputability and news quality? This is the leading concern in the paradigm shift that’s occuring in the world of journalism. Sites like digg and reddit give at least a partial answer to that question, since stories don’t reach the front page without being deemed worthy by thousands of people.
They definitely don’t provide a perfect solution, especially since they don’t answer the question of how jounalism will be funded as this shift continues, but social news aggregators are definitely leading weapons in the war on irrelevance.
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