Following up on the Intro to Digital Communication class discussion yesterday on The Long Tail, I point to Chris Anderson’s own description or analysis of why citizen journalism news aggregator sites have, as a category or genre, not succeeded, at least not yet.
In his blog post, Anderson writes that, “Old media is all about building businesses around content. New media is about the content, period. Old media is about platforms. New media is about individual people . . . The problem with most of the companies Skrenta lists is that they were/are trying to be a ‘news aggregators’. Just as one size of news doesn’t fit all, one size of news aggregator doesn’t either.”
Carnage on this “we media as an institution” highway include Dan Gillmor’s own Bayosphere, which died after he left the site to teach and research.
This is precisely what we discussed yesterday, the problem with oligopolies (or would-be oligopolies) and how omnibus news operations like the New York Times are suffering a death of a thousand cuts, with the sword blades being unsheathed by companies as disparate as Google, craigslist, Digg.com and Politico.com. One size doesn’t even fit many. It’s about niche markets and deep drill down expertise, another form of hyperlocality.
There is geographic locality (I care deeply about water quality in the Coosa river here, but not so much about it in India) and there is information locality (I read The Chronicle of Higher Education each and every week not because it is intrinsically interesting, but because higher education is my primary “community.”) Newspapers, and print publications in general, have to pick one, or no more than a few, and own it/them. With all the “sky is falling” doomsaying about the newspaper industry, the small local papers still are profitable and relevant.