Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Sorting out platforms: aggregation

One of the first disagreements I had with The Orion editors during a Wednesday critique was about the utility of the state, national and world news summaries that run down the far left column of page A2. With news available instantly through a hundred websites and the Associated Press, why would readers care to read day-old stories in a weekly paper devoted to campus news?

I don't dictate, I advise, so that collection of stories still runs in the A2 rail each week. But would my advice about news aggregation be different for theorion.com?


The Orion's website is just as capable of capturing news from the Web as any of the big aggregation sites and apps, but it has a special advantage that makes it valuable to its audience: its audience.

A sharp editor at theorion.com would be able to scan the Web (using RSS feeds, the existing aggregators, Twitter, etc.) and present a smartly edited collection of story summaries and links that would appeal to a general college audience or a Chico State audience. Student journalists know what their peers might be interested in reading or watching and could tailor a feature like this better than Google News or Fark ever could.

Yes, there are students out there who have the time and take enough of an interest in what's on the Web to do this for themselves, but I think the vast majority won't or don't. Just as a traditional newspaper wire editor sorted the hundreds of stories on the AP wire to include in the next morning's paper, so too could an Internet editor create something appealing and valuable for The Orion's audience.

Written well, a Web aggregation feature could become a destination for theorion.com visitors.

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