Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Diversity and automation in online news

Mark Glaser at OJR has a great article on deep linking, diversity, and automation on news sites.

There have been some tremendous changes recently. BBC is linking to related articles on other news sites. The New York Times is opening more of its archives. And even the Wall Street Journal is experimenting with providing access to more of its content.

Richard Deverell, head of BBC News Interactive, credits Google News with forcing the change:
    "I think Google News has been a shot across the bow of all news originators, making us say 'hold on, there's a different way of doing this.' It's very easy to flip between different sources of news. We either try to reverse that trend, which is likely futile, or we facilitate it, and I'm keen that we take the latter route."
Deverell later talks about the advantages of diversity:
    "People do not trust individual sources, no brand is trusted completely -- those days are over," he said. "And people value a range of perspectives. So, for instance, with a political story, we try to give a very impartial account of it, but then the left-wing press will give their perspective and the right-wing press will give a different perspective."
And the advantages of automation:
    The one striking difference between News.com Extra and BBC Newstracker is that the former is created by human editors and the latter is largely a weighted algorithm similar to Google News. Deverell says having editor picks is a nice idea but is just too labor intensive, while the augmented Moreover feeds are "fantastically automated and therefore cheap."
[Thanks, JD Lasica, for the link to the OJR article]

Update: For more on the benefits of automation and a diverse pool of news sources, see my earlier post, Humans vs. Robots.

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