The move's intriguing. Calacanis wants to move the social news meme out into the mainstream Internet, beyond the techie Slashdot/Digg crowd. And in a way, he's already there. Netscape relaunches tonight as a profitable site with 10 million unique visitors a month. A success by many measures. On the other hand, the venerable Netscape name is so tied to another era in many minds, and so indentified with browsers that most are not using anymore, can this new site do anything to lift the brand's profile?
With AOL jumping onto the bandwagon, social news is set to take off. While AOL used to be just another internet company, it has matured from the upstart of the bubble days to a titan in today's GYM-dominated world, as witnessed during the power struggle between Google and Microsoft last year. All it takes now is for Rupert Murdoch to issue another missive t his NewsCorp hordes to embrace social news on the web and push another nail in the coffin for conventional "editor-censored" journalism.
Will social news take off? Will the world move from a syndicated news industry to a perfectly competitive model where one-man purveyors of the truth or so-called citizen journalism dominate? I think not, citizen journalism will not be a dominant trend for it merely highlights the deficiency of modern journalistic practices that do not meet the information needs of a disenfranchised readership. And I am not just talking about the voyeuristic needs of the desire for more sensationalized news.
To me, news reporting s not just about the facts, its also about the opinions. There's only so many ways you can spin the facts. But there's 1001 ways to spin one single fact when u frame it as an opinion. And thats why blogs and news aggregators like Digg exist – to explore and find that alternative viewpoint you thought no one else had.
And opinion is not just an one-way process but a multi-directional exchange. Which is why newspapers today are trailing in circulation, especially in the States, to online news sites like Google News. Readers do not just want to read, they finish an article and they want to share and interact with the infornmation they have just received and processed according to their unique beliefs and opinions. Thats why editorials and commentaries are popular in newspapers or magazines like Economist. We, the readers want to interact. And that ability to interact is available on the web via comments, forum discussions. More on the multi-directional exchange. Put yourself in the shoes of a journalist, you want gratification and recognition of your efforts, the satisfaction that you get when someone responds negatively or positiively to your article. That satisfaction may be a sliver of what you get if you say, win the Pulitzer Prize, but its still a recognition of your achievements in life. And thats why some journalists turn to blogging now, or to podcasting, for one aim of seeking new channels to reach out to their Holy Grail of audience participation. To join in that conversation of social communing. To be able to trade perspectives and learn more in-depth from readers who may know more or have different belief systems. So that same journalist can progress in his career development, writ better articles that are more balanced and thoughtful. The same goes for passive readers. TO be able to read or hear what others have to say about a single issue is meaningful and adds value to his/ her learning about that topic. Thats why Digg is so successful and warrant copying. Because they do not just generate links from their communities for reading, but also interacting and bringing the underlying conversation among the readers to the forefront.
That, to me, is news — the process of informing from all possible angles of society through a (digital) conversation.
Screenshot for interesting comparison. The first pic is the new Netscape portal as of today. And the second pic is how Netscape looked like in 1998. Click on the pics to go to the sites.
Here's the 1998 site.
Related articles from Jeff Jarvis's BuzzMachine. Very forward thinking approach by Guardian of shifting their readership online. ST will probably do this after the whole world's done it and its no longer new.
In other news…
On STOMP — Latest Straits Times Offering
Check out their latest lame attempt at capturing online traffic after they bungled their ST Online subscription and pissed off the online community. STOMP is a dilemma-in-the-making as ST deliberates between whether it is a blog or magazine or portal. Take the first page and it wun look out of place as the front page of a magazine. Think, ST, think. The Web is not offline media. And such blatant advertising on frontpage of offline Straits Times too. Apparently, they just confirmed what they report everyday is trivial news as it appears today's headline is the launch of STOMP.
Giving away cars to boost traffic. haha.. sure, lets see how many cars they need to give away before their traffic becomes sustainable. I would love to see their alexa rankings in a few months time and them to make me eat my words. Justin has a great post here on bashing them. I refuse to give STOMP the visibility they want on the web by dedicating one entire post to them. ;) Lets make them read my piece on new-age journalism.