Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Primary Source News Aggregator

A simple startup idea:

Create a news aggregation site where the organizing principle of the website is to highlight and bubbling up the primary source material for the news.

A large problem in reading news today (online or offline) is the the fact that news rarely links the primary source material that is actually being reported on. We live in an age where if something is not online, it doesn’t exist. So failing to link to all primary sources is rarely constrained because the primary source is not online: instead, it’s almost always laziness on behalf of the author. Or worse, the lack of a link is motivated by the publishers’ desire to keep the reader on site, which is prioritizing business objectives over user experience and journalistic quality. 

This problem is compounded by sensationalism necessary to drive clicks on headlines.  Betteridge’s Law of Headlines is just one example the problem.  I find that at best 5% of news articles actually pay off on the promise given in the headline. Reading news via an aggregator that buries these sensational headlines in favor of primary source headlines (which are almost always much more reasonable and accurate in their claims) would be terrific.

Much of the news bubbled up by existing news aggregators is an interpretation of primary source gone wrong. I would *love* to see a site that bundles up memes of news into one big honking link at the top, which is the primary source, and then all the small links underneath are interpretations of the primary source.

For example, when the USAir flight was downed in the Hudson river, the top most link in that meme should be the Twitpic picture taken from the rescue ferry that every news outlet used, but rarely properly cited.

Or today, when another (consistently terrific) Pew Research Center study was released, the primary source was buried and instead the emphasis was on the interpreted articles from media outlets that varied greatly in their quality of interpretation.  See screen grab:

That screenshot was from techmeme, which is still my “go to” source for daily tech news because it’s the best aggregator out there.  Gabe does a wonderful service for the internet by maintaining this property.  

But I’d love to see a solution to news aggregation that always emphasizes primary source material above all else.  Not only would it be a higher quality news experience, it would give credit where credit is due, to the people that do the hard work of primary data collection and research.


  1. whitneymcn said: Simple, but definitely not easy.
  2. thegongshow posted this