Too much news content? A question to interest-based journalism

Somebody has to say it to those news orgs, and it might as well be me: Give it a rest already!

Here’s the thing: Every time I go to my Google Reader, I am overwhelmed with the amount of content coming in. I mean, really? 500 pieces of fresh content over one week from a tech pub?

And mind you, I divide my reader into niche coverage: tech, news, media dev, &c. As much as I applaud the amount of coverage these bureaus crank, I don’t really care whether some news org is just thinking about mobile, whether another is waiting for alternatives to the iPad. Are you so chained to the 24/7 news cycle that you’ve positioned reporters to catch the slop? That should thought leaders bend the crook of their elbow to return the cup to its saucer—an inquisitive look—suddenly it’s JUST IN: STEVE JOBS ENTERTAINED AN IDEA! PROBABLY ABOUT MOBILE!

My reader, slimmed down from over 2,500 articles in one week from 70 subscriptions. I will say GigaOm is one consistently good provider of content despite the amount they churn. And news flash: Did you know that Steve Ballmer went Twitter crazy in Kiev?

One recent Bits post by NYT’s Nick Bilton examined eye tracking as a measure for the effectiveness of stock and generic photos. Before diving in, Bilton intros the piece by talking about design clutter on the web. He captions interlacing screenshots with ‘photo ignored because it did not offer real info’ (paraphrased).

He ends with a quote: “After all, he notes, most sites are full of ‘fluff — of which there’s too much already on the Web.'”

Bilton profiles Jakob Nielsen's latest research, which he describes as a cleaning project.

So here’s the question: Why rack up the articles just for the sake of doing so? It’s almost a scandal how quickly Internet users subscribe to feeds in contrast to the few pieces that make the skim-worthy short list. A pity; I’m sure I missed so many gems trying to scan the list view of that steaming 500.

Working for a hyperlocal, user-generated news source, I’ve read heaps of reports, articles and first-person accounts on the importance of consistent content to generate interest from contributors and readers. If it is affirmation you seek, kudos. Standing ovation from me for proving you can generate the content. But looking at all y’all, I’m thinking it’s possible to swing too far in the other direction. Why do you flex when it just adds to the clutter?


Filed under: Internet, Journalism, , , , , , , , , , , ,

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