Listen to a traditional journalist, and they will probably say news aggregators like Huffington Post and the Daily Beast are destroying the newspaper industry. These news compilers rip articles and headlines from online news sites and display them in an abbreviated, accessible form, making the original articles seem like stilted, humorless accounts written by tired, grumbling reporters.
On every aggregators’ site, there is an address for submitting news tips and articles — “Give Us The Scoop” on Huffington Post, “Tip Your Editors” on Gawker, “The Cheat Sheet,” on the Daily Beast. And to hear it from reporters like Ian Shapira of the Washington Post, whose story was recently linked and rewritten on Gawker, these submissions are helping to make the newspaper industry obsolete.
But distanced from the subject of the original article, these news aggregators are unrestrained by serious, fair reporting in their rewrites. In an online Q&A session with readers, Shapira wrote today:
Perhaps I could have included more criticism from more people in my story. But if every subject were open to mean-spirited mockery, I doubt as many people would let me into their lives.
So newspapers can’t be quite as humorous and snarky as aggregators and blogs. But are news aggregators and their condensed articles really destroying the newspaper industry?
According to an article on Gawker yesterday titled “The Time Gawker Put the Washington Post Out of Business,” newspapers themselves are actually using these tip lines to publicize their content:
If you’re going to fixate on blog links as the death knell of the industry, we have a lead for you: The threat is coming from inside the building. Nearly every day — 26 times in July alone — a Washington Post staffer not only sends us links to its expensive reporting but even pulls out the most interesting quotes so as to make it easier to pirate.
But maybe newspapers do have a reporters’ best interests at heart, despite this apparent sell-out. Who knows, maybe the money from those exclusive “salons” that the Post was planning to sell to lobbyists for up to $250,000 early last month was going to be given to reporters as thanks for the articles that newspapers were secretly selling to aggregators, anyway.