Increasingly it is a requirement that specialist journalists who work in mainstream media blog, alongside carrying out their regular reporting duties. Aggregation – the gathering of content that has appeared on the web and, often, commenting on it – is a popular activity among bloggers
Roy Greenslade (2010), an academic and media commentator for The Guardian, describes the purpose of his own blog:
This blog is a mixture of aggregation, commentary, analysis, diary items and news reporting. It represents a developing form of journalism as we come to terms with the digital revolution. This platform is very different from print, not least in the way it allows for swift, almost instantaneous, rebuttal and comment from users. It is a forum for the rapid exchange of ideas and views. That is a great advantage, and an advance, over printed newspapers. In content terms, a blog is not a screen replica of a print newspaper. It is journalism in the raw, a live conversation between people interested and involved in a specific topic (in this case, journalism).
Blogs are frequently aligned with one particular writing style – opinion. However, as the quote from Greenslade notes, blogs can include a range of styles – including news.
Aggregation and Curation
Aggregation is controversial. There is an on-going debate about whether this form of content is really journalism. It is certainly not the ‘boots on the ground’ reporting which is most associated with traditional journalism. Bloggers have been accused of spending their days commenting and pulling together news from other sources, rather than generating original stories.
Aggregation is also closely associated with content curation i.e. sorting, categorising and presenting information from a wide range of sources in a format that is easy for the user to digest. But curation is different to aggregation, the latter usually implies commenting on news from a single feed (e.g. what appears in mainstream media).
Sayid Ali, owner of NewsFlick.net, (cited in Sternberg, Mashable, 2011) says that curation:’gathers all these fragmented pieces of information to one location, allowing people to get access to more specialized content.’ In this respect bloggers take on the role of sense-makers of material from a wide variety of sources.
Tip: This is closely aligned with Axel Brun’s concept of Gatewatching which is discussed in the book
Josh Sternberg writing on Mashable blog in 2011 states:
They [curators] are not on the front lines, covering a particular beat or industry, or filing a story themselves, but they are responding to a reader need. With a torrent of content emanating from innumerable sources (blogs, mainstream media, social networks), a vacuum has been created between reporter and reader — or information gatherer and information seeker — where having a trusted human editor to help sort out all this information has become as necessary as those who file the initial report.
Mark Little of content curation firm Storyful (Storyful blog, 2011) said that it helps to think of curation in terms of three stage process:
- Discovery: How do we find valuable social media content?
- Verification: How do we make sure we can trust it?
- Delivery: How do we turn that content into stories?
The verification process is by the hardest task for any journalist. We need to be transparent with our users and if can’t verify the accuracy of the information provided then we should not be using the content.
Storify provides tools to allow you to search for snippets of news content from a vast range of online sources. It allows you present them in the best format for your users and a narrative to allow users to make sense of the story which can then be embedded into your blog. It is fast and easy to use.