Like all youngster, Digital Media startups have begun to grow up and mature. While they may be losing some of their youthful charm, they have begun to look more and more like some of the main stream media they are replacing, but in a good way.
Gawker, Newser and Talking Points Memo have all begun to shed the “Blog” format of presenting new content. That is the format that puts the latest post on top of the column. Instead they are all moving toward a “Curated” experience where their Editors (aka Humans) are creating a front page that assigns various levels of importance on each story.
In addition Digg, the site that is totally dependent on users who submit and recommend storys, has for the first time added editors who will create a front page and pull what they believe are the more important trending stories to the top.
I wrote at length about some of this in a commentary on MarketWatch today.
For me the irony was that these moves are exactly what we did at the birth of MarketWatch 15 years ago. A curated front page, representing the best, real-time, thinking of a group of editors, was the “secret sauce” of MarketWatch. As former journalists we knew that our value wasn’t just in the stories we wrote, but in the context and perspective we added. A front page that resembled a newspaper front page, that graphically presented the day’s news in perspective, was just as valuable to time-starved readers who just wanted to know quickly what was happening in their world.
So, the good news is that humans…us….matter. Technology can help us, but it also needs us to work at its best.
While Gawker, Newser, TPM and Digg are all children of the new digital era, and were fueled by the ability of technology to deliver their content more broadly and more efficiently than traditional media, they are all now discovering something critical to their future success: human judgment matters. The technology that gave them the ability to compete in the media space also has limitations, and can be used wisely or poorly.
There are some things that technology CAN’T replace, like the value of smart people debating the facts and striving to give context and perspective on information. And in today’s world of unlimited information, that has become even more important.