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The Tyranny Of The ‘Daily 10 Percent’

in media

Julie Starr of Evolving Newsroom makes a compelling case for consumers going to the news and actively filtering it instead of waiting for repetitive and useless bits of it to wash over us. One of Starr’s suggestions is a challenge for journalists: Fix How the news gets out before What goes in it. I ask: Why not both?

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve heard someone say – or said myself in a fit of pique – that ‘the news is rubbish’, ‘we need more investigative journalism’, ‘we need better analysis’, ‘who cares about that celebrity nonsense’ or ‘if I see one more crime story under the heading of National News I’m going to spit.’

… There’s an uncomfortable truth in here, of course, in that we, the audience, can be hopelessly lazy about ‘staying informed’ and the best filtering tools in the world won’t help us if we don’t take the time to set them up.

The battle to get us to pay for news is as much a battle to get us to want to read much of it in the first place.  Same goes for a more informed citizenry.

… Maybe, then, we future-of-news types should focus on how to better get the ‘news we approve of’ out to people in a format, time and place that makes them interested. Maybe we should focus on how to get that daily 10 per cent working better for people now – before we throw buckets of money at funding ‘better journalism’ that may only get lost in the mix.

This is a conundrum I’ve often encountered when fine-tuning my feed-reader: How do I know what to read if I don’t know it exists?

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  • Once upon a time, there were these people called “editors” who filled this function. The idea that good filtering is a replacement for a good editor who understands the context of news and can make good judgments – seeking out material written by people with strong subject matter expertise, for example – remains utterly unproven, even though we seem willing to stake the future of journalism on it.

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