November 1st, 2007

NYTimes.Com Aggregates Third-Party Content, Marks Transformation of Media

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NYTimes.com wasn’t the first traditional media brand to aggregate third-party content — and it certainly won’t be the last. But the New York Times, once considered the national newspaper of record, represented one of the last bastions of the traditional media approach to content, i.e. we produce it ALL ourselves.

And if anyone makes a credible run at doing it all by themselves, it’s the Times, which generates a prodigious volume of the highest quality content every day.

But in a networked media world, where news consumers have access to EVERY piece of content produced by EVERY news outlet large and small (and with high quality news outlets proliferating on the web), media is undergoing a seismic shift — it’s no longer strictly about producing and distributing your OWN content.

Media is now about distributing the BEST content — and Times has embraced this new reality with the launch of its new technology section, which incorporates third-party headlines surfaced by Blogrunner (which the Times acquired very quietly last year — and which uses a TechMeme-like algorithm based on link patterns) and then selected with input from Times editors.

new-york-times-blogrunner-headlines.gif

According to NYTimes.com Tech Editor Saul Hansell (who, in a refreshing and highly effective twist, did the pitching to bloggers about the site launch):

Unlike Google News and Techmeme, we aren’t trying to prove machines can be better editors than people. We have a hybrid model, with Web Crawlers and Editors both helping find and ranks posts.

As to how the interaction between the Times’ human editors and Blogrunner’s algorithms ultimately plays out, Saul wisely says its still a “work in progress” — as all new media experiments should be. Try it. See what happens. And learn as you go. That’s the disposition of smart media companies.

The New York Times joins what I expect will be a rapidly expanding list of media brands that aim to create value for their readers by aggregating the best third-party content from across the web and thereby take an important step towards transforming media into a dynamic, collaborative, and fully networked endeavor.

  • The New York Times has embraced third party content long before the launch of its new tech section, through its partnership with Answers.com. See news report on the NYT’s integration of Answers.com’s reference content here http://newsbreaks.infotoday.co... and an example at http://www.answers.com/main/NY....

  • Of course available third-party content will still be ultimately selected by the editors, and rightly so, but it certainly is incentive for us all to provide quality content for consideration!

  • It's still the national newspaper of record, pal. Nothing has changed.

  • La tendencia es clara, internet apunta a facilitarnos cosas a los usuarios, al consumidor final; los modelos de negocio ya no pueden ser los mismos de antes. El que el New York Times decida volverse distribuidor de contenidos lo ratifica, la gente desea conocer puntos de vista independiente, de bloggers por ejemplo.

  • This is something I've long been hoping for. To quote myself (sorry...):

    "A blank sheet of paper approach would open our eyes to simple facts such as:

    * The best content for the community is welcome - be it our own, rival media brand owners', or user generated content.
    * The community should judge which content gets highest prominence - and which gets booted into touch.
    * Groups should be allowed to form which set their own parameters for what equals interesting and 'good'.

    This requires some bravery on the part of the media brand owner. It means that only if our own content is good enough/a good enough fit with the community will it score the highest ratings and get top billing.

    But what would you not want to learn from this?"

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