To Curate or Not Curate: That is Not the Question
The real question is why are so many old school media outlets hung up about it?
The New York Times isn’t going anywhere (well, the online edition, anyhow). People rely on credible news analysis and confirmation of fact by the Establishment. That’s important. And media outlets like The New York Times, The Gaurdian and Der Spiegel are in the business of confirming fact. Once it’s confirmed, the blogosphere is in the business of commenting on it. And that’s not bad – that’s good. Journalists who worked hard at college to get a by-line at the New York Times aren’t going anywhere. For the rest of the journalism graduates, there’s the DIY by-line via WordPress. And plenty of those by-lines are well worth reading (but that’s a different argument).
The beef over content curation strikes me as strange. I live in Australia. I’m flat out spending time on our local Media Establishment sites like The Age to remember to visit the Times or The Guardian. I rely on curators to deliver me the best news and commentary of the day. And that includes my friends via my Facebook newsfeed and Twitter handle, and professional colleagues via my LinkedIn newsfeed. Then there’s Zite and my favourite news app of all time, Pulse News. There are also websites that produce original and curated content – Daily Beast is a great example of getting the mix right. Yes, when I’m on Pulse, I’m viewing the introduction of the content in Pulse’s browser – which is ad free – but to read the article, I think click-thru to the source, in all its original glory. And if it’s a good story, the original source will get the benefit of hundreds of curators pointing readers in their direction.
Like I have the Times…
Of course, just like good and bad people and good and bad SEO strategies, there is good and bad curation practice. Stealing is not good. Not identifying the source is not good. Pretending it is your own personal wisdom when it’s not, is not good. What is good, is creating your own headline and description pointing to why reading the article in full might be a good idea. For time-poor people dealing with numerous digital interruptions on top of whatever else life is throwing at them, this is a good thing. A good and necessary thing.
Establishment news organisations that get cranky about curation should instead be thankful. I don’t live in New York City where bus shelters remind me to read ‘all the news that’s fit to print’ Or as The New York Times says these days: ‘We Don’t Just Cover it. We are It’. I need to be reminded to click through to an article. If there’s ten articles on Syria as news story of the day, which one should I read? I rely on recommendations, and in turn, I have my own suggestions on what to read that I enjoy sharing.
Who Gets the Click-Thru?
Everyone wants traffic. Traffic is money. And the New York Times knows this as much as the next guy. So why is it a big deal when a curator recommends I read an article published on www.nytimes.com , by telling me why in 25 words or less, why this would be a great read, then providing the click-thru to the article on its original site (let’s assume for a moment this exists in a world without pay walls. Content protected by pay walls generally doesn’t get curated). This is a good thing, right?
The issue of content curation is a non –argument. We’ve been doing it for years anyway, and now there are experts legitimising it for us. I trust my tech curator to bring me the freshest, most important and relevant news and opinion of the day, just like I do with my news curators and art curators.
It makes my digital life a lot easier, and my brain a lot better fed, and the Establishment gets to stay relevant: WIN.