Home > The sPressionist > Aggregation vs. journalism ?

Aggregation vs. journalism ?

I was having a conversation with a publisher of an independent publication.  He said that “my employer and you guys at foldier are on the opposite ends of the spectrum.”  He meant to say that aggregation and his contributions to the world were incompatible.  His attitudes irked me.

Aggregation has been labeled as parasitic, preying upon the newspaper industry.  AP’s and other new sources view point compile information and contribute their own opinions and attach a value to it.  These people fail to see the mutually beneficial relationships between the aggregators and publishers.

Personally, I aim to gain as much attention from this website and to my own writings and musings.  If anyone ever re-tweeted or linked to my website, I would be touched.  I make no money on my writing, but continue to write regardless.

Journalists rightly feel an ownership of their writings.  Aggregators never want to present it as their own information.  They attempt to draw attention to valued pieces of writing.  Aggregators complement the original content as being worthy of being read.

Aggregation as contextualization

The fact remains that there are so many different viewpoints on a topic that a journalist would have to publish a book concerning any subject to capture the entirety of an issue.  A writer that want to complete a simple piece about the importance of the protest after the Iranian elections would have to give context to the history of Iran, Iranian-American politics, Iranian and global relations, demographics of the Iranian population, etc. That context would be aggregated content from other sources.

Furthermore, bias within journalism runs rampant.  Matt Taibbi was singled out for his Rolling Stone articles where he blamed so many financial institution’s greed (particularly Goldman Sachs) for our present economic debacle.  Everything Taibbi wrote seemed to make sense, but the article showed only one side of the story.  It is simply too easy to blame one or multiple financial institutions for what is occurring.  Any student of history will tell you that no matter how simple a cause seems for something is there are deeper more complex issues at hand.

Aggregation done well and from an edited perspective can add depth to an issue.  If I had enough time, I would read both the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, watch MSNBC and Fox News, and somewhere in the middle of what is being said and reported I would find a grain of truth.  However, aggregation does not rely upon a certain news network, news organization, talking heads, or time constraints to provide the depth necessary to find answers to today’s questions.

Aggregation without compensation

The major issue about aggregation is the lack of compensation.  There have been many articles written exploring the poltics and economics of free.  Bill Maher wrote on the Huffington Post (a site that use a lot of aggregated content) a piece decrying that seemingly everything in America must make a profit or is considered a failure.

Simply put, no one told newspaper or magazines to publish their material for free. To my knowledge, no one put a gun to newspaper owners’ and demanded free news. Conversely, it seems patently unfair for an outside service to co-opt ideas, words, and in some very rare cases art for profit especially without even mentioning the original source of the content. That is not aggregation – that is stealing content.

Shifting towards a symbiotic relationship

Newspapers should not silo away information only for those willing to pay a subscription fee.  Information from different newspaper around the world enrich the public discourse.  The average reader may be faced with the dilemma of sacrificing the excellent writing of the New York Times or the political insight of the Washington Post.  However, the newspaper must have the incentive to continue to keep covering these issues and be compensated.  Beyond the incentive, they must have the means to continue publishing.

Somewhere between the benefits of aggregation and excellence of individual writers and newspaper, there is a compromise to be had.  Mirroring the differing opinions of politics lies the ability to compromise for the sake of perpetuation.

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  1. March 8, 2010 at 9:38 am

    Fantastic site, just Digged it

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