News 2.0, actually Repackaged News 2.0

24 Comments

Update: Actually, Pete was pointing to a post by Rich Skrenta of Topix who quips, “it looks like the social software space of a few years back.” But still, most think I am off base. So I will repeat. Remix as much as you want, just use a different label, not News 2.0.

Pete Cashmore writes a thoughtful Web 2.0 blog called Mashable. Its a delicious delight for some groovy analysis. I don’t agree with him. Like today he puts up a list of sites that are generically labeled News 2.0. On the list are usual suspects – Digg, Findory, Reddit, Google News and more. The definition of news is quite different for what the basic nature of sites listed in the Mashable post. (Dictionary, Webster, and Wikipedia)

Most don’t really create anything (notable exceptions Newsvine and Backfence) but instead are simply repackaging news that other people create. Without the efforts of News 1.0 and Bloggers, News 2.0 doesn’t mean anything. Its not News 2.0, but instead Repackaging News 2.0. We need to find a new descriptor. I do agree with Cashmore: they all look increasingly similar, which doesn’t behold good tidings for the future.

24 Comments

Nick Murphy

Editor 2.0

That is what these sites are. They are about taking independently produced news (which eventually all news/opinion should be) and creating targeted publications.

Vaibhav - iNods

Om, this is more of a difference of perception and definition of 2.0 in a broader audience’s mind. In reality, 2.0 terminology is best understood by a broader audience as a new way of doing things.

Considering this, I think its the repackaging of the news that is being done in a new way, than creation of the content itself. Its really the repackaging where innovation is being done and will continue. This, by no means, devalues the value content itself, but its the repackging applications which are really bringing in the NEW – the 2.0. no?

Hashim

News 1.0 relies on AP and Reuters to create their own handpicked mashups. News 2.0 is making that happen automatically.

Paul Montgomery

Chris and Om, when I’m talking about news outlets repackaging wire content, I’m thinking mostly about their Web sites. I see many MSM sites keeping much of their best original journalism print-only or screen-only, and filling the gaps in their Web site coverage with shovelled AP/Reuters feeds that would never make it to the MSM version.

Sure, it would be nice to have a different, distinctive descriptor for the new round of news aggregators. However, like the Web 2.0 meme itself, I think it’s going to be far easier for non-industry types to comprehend a phrase like News 2.0 than anything else that people could come up with. If you can think of something more memorable then I’d go with that, but in the meantime we’re stuck with the “2.0” suffix so we might as well run with it.

Chris Edwards

Pete,

Sorry, I didn’t follow the links through. I realise now why the list looks the way it does having followed the trail.

Paul,

I think it’s stretching a point to say that just because media outlets use some news agency copy (which they do pay for) to cover things for which they don’t have the bandwidth that they are just aggregators.

To return to Om’s original point: if they aren’t reporting news directly and are “not all about original journalism”, why should aggregators be News 2.0 sites? Secondary activities around news are not news. There is no shame in doing aggregation or repackaging as it is providing a service to the user, but it ain’t news.

Om Malik

Old media or News 1.0 as we know it going through its own convulsions because of exactly a lot of folks like Mathew described – using generic news as fodder for the paper. that’s the main reason many newspapers are in trouble.

i agree with many of the points you are making guys, but if you go back to the post i wrote: we need a new description of the aggregation phenomenon.

now paul, i am not being “old media” about it. think of me as the janus man between old and new. i still work in the old media, but i am doing new media as well. i am speaking from personal experience guys.

Paul Montgomery

Matthew Ingram has it right. All newspaper outlets repackage someone else’s wire content, in part or in full. Om, if you’d linked back to the original article you would have seen that the News 2.0 sites are doing things none of the MSM news aggregator sites are doing.

News 2.0 sites are not all about original journalism. A lot of them are centred mostly on secondary activities based around the news. You might as well say the entirety of the blogosphere is useless because it contains almost no original journalism.

Don’t be so “old media” about it Om.

Debbie Landa

Om, like newsvine and backfence – whom are both on the News 2.0 track – there is one major player missing and i guess the blogosphere isn’t clued in to them for some reason but what about NowPublic – these guys are kickin’ ass and taking numbers when it comes to real News 2.0 – citizen journalizm or whatever you want to call it….we did a profile on them that you should check out – that will give you a few of the facts….http://undertheradarblog.com/2006/01/09/127/

Pete Cashmore

Chris,

Well, I’ll presume that you’re referring to me when you say “Mashed”. I didn’t create that list – I just pointed to it on Paul’s blog, and far as I’m aware he was remixing a previous post by someone else. So I guess if you think it’s incomplete, repost a more complete list on your blog and trackback. (Sorry if that sounds like a cop-out!)

I agree with Matthew Ingram that a lot of TV and newspaper content is just repackaged from an AP feed, so I don’t really understand the repackaging angle. The only reason I wasn’t too keen on the phrase “News 2.0” is that we seem to be putting 2.0 on the end of everything these days.

Interesting comments on whether attention scarcity is real or not. I’ll definitely give it some thought.

Chris Edwards

Attention scarcity is a myth – as long as you occupy the top slots in media, whether new or old. If you look at any statistics, whether they be ratings or webstats, they indicate that most people go to the same places for their entertainment or their news. I haven’t got a model or a chart I can point to, but I’d be amazed if the curve didn’t obey the good old power law. Attention is scarce for those occupying The Long Tail but still abundant for the top outlets.

Aggregators (I tend to use that term for repackaging as that reflects what most of them do) don’t really do a great deal to upset the power law. By depending on ratings, they reinforce it. TailRank has some things in it that should promote specialist sites and posting to people with specialist interests. But I’ll lay money on the outcome that all you get there is a lot of power laws overlaid on each other. Whether that results in a much flatter curve remains to be seen, and I’m doubtful.

I think there is some good in the repackaging even from an “old media” standpoint. It should help encourage news editors to move away from looking in the same places for news on the basis that, if you can’t get the first or the best treatment of a story, you might as well repackage/link someone else’s instead. That might disrupt the power law with regards to the resources given over to stories – go look for different ones, not all try to be first on the few that everybody knows about. On the other hand, it might reinforce the power law as everybody tries deperately to be first to get into Digg or whatever the flavour of the month aggregator is at the time (bearing in mind that most of the online population still uses bookmarks of favourite sites as their aggregator, not one of the fancypants Web 2.0 sites).

My question, and I guess it’s really a question for Mashed: what happened to Slashot and WikiNews in that list? WikiNews was meant to provide original reporting but seems to be totally repackaged, albeit with more active editing and mixing of sources. Doesn’t it count?

And good old Slashdot: is it now so unfashionable that no-one will mention it in lists just in case people remember it?

RK

In a world where information is no longer scarce (and attention is the scarcest resource in the value chain), the repackaging is an important step.” Not to pick on Pete Cashmore here but this statement, which seems to have become an aphorism among netizens these days, is it really true? I am not sure. Is information really no longer scarce? What do we really know, for example, about the rural unrest in China, about the farmer suicides in India, or for that matter, the alarming decrease in education standards, right here in U.S.? We don’t know much information, but we have heard a lot about these happenings, in a vague sort of way. We think we know, but we don’t. Too often we read such “repackaged information,” which is really the old information packaged with new opinion, and we delude ourselves into thinking we know more. I would modify the above statement to read: “We are living in a world where vague familiarity is no longer scarce (and informed opinion is the scarcest resource in the value chain).“>/p>

Here is an interest set of quotes from “Mirror of War: The Washington Star reports the Civil War,” (Compiled by John W. Stepp and I. William Hill) a book I recommend highly.

“To the earliest American editors, news was whatever information of interest came to them, however old, however inaccurate. Even by 1800, no effort had been made to go out and gather news. Newspapes were often crammed with sentimental verse, pompous essays, religious dissertations and bombastic political propaganda.”

“In appearance, The Star of Civil War days still clung to British and colonial traditions. Two-thirds of its first page consisted of advertisements, many in number and small in size. Page One spaceleft by the ads often presented sentimental fiction, verse, do-it-yourself articles, and such humor as Artemus Ward yarns. Editorials appeared on Page Two, though editorials and news stories were sometimes difficult to distinguish.”

“What the present day editor calls a “new lead” was apparently unheard of one hundred years ago (146 years ago, by 2006). “New leads” meant the resetting of type. As a consequence, if a big story were breaking, the story in the old Star began with the first news to come in. Later news was hung on the end of that, and so on. The result is a chronological collection of developments where, in some cases, a report down the column will refult news published higher up.”

“In May, 1848, six New York newspapers, hungry for fresher news, pooled their resources to form the Associated Press, the progenitor, but a vastly different type of organization from the modern wire service of the same name. […] As the Associated Press grew, it designated “agents” in American cities to provide news by wire. These “agents” were more distinguished by their facility in operating a telegraph than by their ability at reporting.”

Ring a bell how similar it reads to our current day blogging phenomemon?

RK

Mathew Ingram

Ironically, much of what makes up News 1.0 — many newspapers and a lot of TV stations — is simply repackaged news as well, it just happens to come from news wires like Associated Press and Reuters instead of from blogs. And a lot of what aggregators and recommenders are doing now is repackaging that and any related commentary before the News 1.0 gang even knows it’s out there. I think that alone makes many of them News 2.0.

Mike D.

Yep, I agree with you here, Om, because all we’re talking about is the definition of a made-up term: News 2.0. We’ve been very careful never to call ourselves News 2.0 or Web 2.0 or anything 2.0 given the fact that once bandwagons like that start, all sorts of me-toos tend to jump on and weigh the bus down. “Hey, my site can fetch data from a server without refreshing the page! I deserve some funding!”

I think what you’re saying here, Om, is that “News 2.0” should refer to new ways of reporting the news as opposed to new ways of consuming the news. New ways of consuming the news are, by definition, new ways of “repackaging the news”, as you say. Whether it be RSS aggregators or anything else, yes, it’s just repackaging.

With regards to Newsvine (thanks for the mention), a lot of our goal is definitely in the presentation, aggregation, and repackaging of original and syndicated content, but your producer-side definition fits us as well. Pretty soon, you’ll be able to post an article from a baseball game using nothing but your Treo. Or upload audio you recorded from the subway before you’ve even exited the subway. Or post a live poll asking users to react to a story you just published. These sorts of things change the way news is reported and not just consumed, and that’s what makes it all the more interesting.

Gabe Morris

Om, by your reasoning (and I’m not being rhetorical), then I guess simplyhired and indeed aren’t Job Search 2.0, but simply Job Recommendation 2.O?

Om Malik

pete,

all things considered, i am frankly getting sick and tired of the rss reader as an excuse. rss reader is a replacement for the browser, but doesn’t necessarily mean that the content creation process is any different. sure me or tech crunch or whomever doesn’t have the legacy costs involved but still we do the same traditional thing.

having said that, my problem is not with what these services are doing, but instead the lablel. “recommend 2.0” might be much better description.

Om Malik

greg,

i agree. finding content and making it available to others is a good and profitable business as folks at Google have shown as . I think whether it is your company (findory) or what Gabe is doing or what Tail Rank is doing, there as part of a “recommendation service” and it is incorrect to call them news.

I have often referred to as gabe’s effort as “instant recommendations” where as your service is “my recommendations”

calling them News 2.0 is incorrect.

Greg Linden

Simply repackaging news that other people create? Really? And do search engines simply repackage content that other websites create?

I cannot speak for the other news sites, but I think Findory does a lot more than repackage news.

Findory’s news recommendations help people discover news they wouldn’t have found on their own. Findory’s personalization technology matches content to interested audiences.

Getting found is the goal of all content. That’s why search engines exist. That’s why Findory exists.

Pete Cashmore

Om,

Well I’m not crazy about the moniker “News 2.0” either, and I partly agree with your analysis that News 2.0 is nothing more than repackaging the news. But that’s exactly what the news is about these days: if you’re using an RSS reader, you’re already repackaging your news. In a world where information is no longer scarce (and attention is the scarcest resource in the value chain), the repackaging is an important step. Yes, the content is created by bloggers and journalists, but the distribution mechanism has changed dramatically since the days of printed newspapers. So I guess if there is a “News 2.0”, it describes the whole ecosystem – from the bloggers/journalists to the attention allocators (Memeorandum, Digg) and your RSS reader.

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