Don’t bury your audience in news

McClatchy-Tribune ontologists are news junkies, as you may have guessed. While we develop great software and deliver smart topical news feeds during the work day, at home we spend personal time, like you, wading through news stories to find something of interest.

Photo courtesy of Urbane Women Magazine via Creative Commons/Attribution license.

Photo courtesy of Urbane Women Magazine via Creative Commons/Attribution license.

Our methods at home vary. We:

  • surf web sites by hand (click, click, back, click, scroll, back, click, scroll…)
  • painstakingly update lapsed, broken, and overly broad RSS feeds that we receive in Feedly
  • search Twitter or Google Plus by trial-and-error keywords
  • wait for friends on Facebook to recommend stories,
  • use publication-specific news apps (of which McClatchy offers several, via iTunes)

Several of these tools appear regularly in “self-help” articles for unfortunate souls who are drowning in news.

But all this effort brings us back to why we create SmartContent in the first place:  Busy readers shouldn’t need self-help.

Envision a major health consortium’s web site, which contains a tsunami of breaking medical news. You’re looking for news about local implementation of the Affordable Care Act, but all you find is a vast list of general health stories and some RSS links — oh, groovy, you tried RSS once and decided it’s for nerds. Worse: You call the consortium’s news desk. A sales rep warmly replies, “Did you try to Google our site? Oh, I think I saw some stories about Obamacare on our Twitter feed. Good luck!”  How much attention will you commit to that consortium’s site, before leaving it — hopefully forever?

Do you feel as though, perhaps, the consortium just dumped its own labor costs on you?

The consortium may see the light; it might even hire editors to review and select stories by topic. But then it’s not only paying high wages, plus administrative costs, for specialized personnel to perform work properly delegated to computers;  it’s also approaching a tsunami of news in a subjective and spotty fashion. What are the chances, after all, that a couple of editors will seriously review and categorize each one of 10,000 stories per day?

When intelligent-content companies such as MCT and SmartLogic build specialized news feeds, such as MCT’s local Obamacare news feed — or license their application and support to the topical news distributor — both distributor and consumer benefit from improved, relevant, intelligent content, quickly and at lower cost than an editorial team or do-it-yourself.

About Michael Airhart

Senior editor with 20 years of experience in content syndication and the business of journalism.

Posted on October 10, 2013, in The Science and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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