As the newspapers meet in secret to discuss how they are going to increase revenue and look at suing various online news aggregators (like Google News), I have discovered something that will probably only increase the speed at which newspapers will die out. I recently posted about reaquainting myself with FriendFeed. I mentioned in that article how FriendFeed’s shining gem is in how it helps crowdsource the news and as such can help people find news that really matters to them on a wide range of topics.
Social news aggregaters have been around for a few years, one of the most popular being Digg. Digg is one of the few that really aggregates a large number of topics under a single site. Other aggregaters exist and some are even topic specific (like DotNetKicks). Social news aggregaters allow news items to be crowdsourced and have only the most popular (and hopefully the most relevant) bubble up to the top of the heap. This allow users to only grab the best (as decided by community) and never have to see the stuff that no one cares about (they can of course choose to browse these if they want).
So if I can subscribe to the RSS feeds of these aggregaters main pages, I can essentially only see news items that a large number of people deem important. I’ve cut out the newspaper, CNN, BBC, almost completely (one would assume that links to these things would pop up on these aggregaters). This means that I get real news and avoid the fluff.
Of course the downside to this is I am at the mercy of the masses. Digg is a perfect example of a news aggregator that has become little more than a mouth piece for the American left-wing. In fact, I had to stop using Digg altogether because it was so hard to get away from people spouting left-wing propaganda and refusing to listen to facts when presented from a different view point. When that happens the news source becomes worthless. It can no longer be trusted. In order to have a well balanced news intake, one must look at all viewpoints to determine truth and accuracy. There are ways around this, and I’m sure someone will eventually be able to come up with a aggregation site that can’t be gamed (or at least one that is difficult to game).
People have already (mostly) moved to getting their news online. My local newspaper has raised it prices 2 times in recent memory in order to combat fewer print readers. Long term, the general public will come to look towards the educated masses to help them select what news to read, most (if not all) of it will be done online. The printed newspapers are attempting to hold onto their dying media with a tight grip, but it’s usually when you hold on to something tight that you start to you lose your grip on it.