Actually, aggregation has a long, proud and ethical history in journalism. If you’re an old-school journalist, don’t think Huffington Post or Drudge when you think about aggregation; think AP. The Associated Press is primarily an aggregation service*, except that it its members pay huge fees for the privilege of being aggregated (and for receiving content aggregated from other members).
The New York Times and Washington Post also have long histories of aggregation. In my years at various Midwestern newspapers, we reported big local and regional stories that attracted the attention of the Times, Post and other national news organizations. Facts we had reported first invariably turned up in the Times and Post stories without attribution or with vague attribution such as “local media reports.” I don’t say that critically. When I was a reporter and editor at various Midwestern newspapers, we did the same thing with facts we aggregated from smaller newspapers as we did regional versions of their local stories.
Researchers are analyzing if its possible to predict how widely news items will spread before publishing and promoting them via social networks.
By analyzing past performance of popular Twitter posts, the researchers from UCLA and HP Labs believe they can predict ranges of popularity on Twitter with 84% accuracy.
Via Technology Review:
[Bernardo Huberman] wants to know whether their is something about the news stories themselves that determine their popularity. In other words, he’s looking for factors that determine how popular a news story will be before it is even published.
To find out, Huberman and his colleagues examined the content of news stories during a single week in August last year as measured by the news feed aggregator Feedzilla. They scored each article based on four criteria: the news source that generates and posts the article; the category of news; the subjectivity of the language; and the people and things named in the article.
They then measured the way these news stories spread across the Twitter network to see which became popular and how quickly. They used this to work out how an article’s score in each criterion is linked to its eventual popularity.
Technology Review rightfully points out that this could have a profound effect on how newsrooms assign and schedule their editorial. It also suggests that we could have “social checkers” in our word processing apps and CMS’s that work similarly to spell checkers. The social checker would help predict how popular our stories will become.
An interesting metric even if it ignores the simple fact that often the most important stories aren’t the ones that reach the most eyeballs.
Study: The Pulse of News in Social Media: Forecasting Popularity, via arxiv (PDF).
The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism brings you “The Year in News 2011.” According to the report, the faltering U.S. economy was the number 1 story in the American news media in 2011. See what else topped the list, and what was trending in the social media world by reading the full report here.
Eighteen months after the introduction of the iPad,11% of U.S. adults now own a tablet computer of some kind. About half (53%) get news on their tablet every day, and they read long articles as well as get headlines. But a majority says they would not be willing to pay for news content on these devices, according to the most detailed study to date of tablet users and how they interact with this new technology.
Maikel Nabil Sanad was sentenced to three years in prison for criticizing Egypt’s military. Today he enters the 42nd day of a hunger strike.
Via Index on Censorship:
It’s Maikel Nabil Sanad’s 26th birthday but he is in no celebratory mood. When I arrive at El Marg prison north of Cairo during visiting hours on Saturday 1 October, I can barely hide my shock at seeing his bony physique. Maikel is wearing a wrinkled blue track suit and on his head is a baseball cap worn backwards in a sign of rebellion. It is clear that Maikel is in extremely frail health. He attempts to stand up to greet me but almost immediately falls back into his chair in sheer exhaustion. That’s because today, Maikel tells me, is also the 40 day of his hunger strike — one that he had hoped would draw public attention to his plight and force the ruling military council to reconsider what he describes as the military’s “discriminatory “policies.