Victus Spiritus


The New Journalist is the man in the arena

10 Oct 2010

The transition of news from bundled content, to personal subscriptions, to relevance filters

As an avid reader and amateur author I'll be the first to admit writing goes through rhythms of quality and crowd relevance. Even the best authors have bad days, and there are times when they expect posts to be big hits yet they fizzle on fans. The pros come back several times a day swinging and more often than not, pattern match perfectly to a crowd hungry for infotainment.

Most professional writers struggle to grow readership or increase engagement. To meet these challenges blogging comes down to execution of marketing and editing. Marketing is a wide umbrella which covers market knowledge, topical research, rapid information funnels, effective social networks, and analytics.  Successful web magazines hire proven authors who excel in all these areas, or specialize in a single role. These hired guns are able to rapidly spin a tale out of breaking news. Meatier content and thoughtful posts have a different audience than rapid fire coverage, or lighter opinion pieces. The best of the best understand their current topic's most fanatic fans and sing to their interests with artful wordcraft.

Social filters answer fluctuating source quality and relevance

Twitter is an unmatched social news reader. I count on the perception of others to filter their inbound reading and pass on the best content. When two or more voices I tune in to share the same message, I mark the content for later review with a JavaScript bookmarklet and Instapaper (see digital baggage and Frankencuration). This way I have a steady stream of search followed by batch reading, mitigating the need to constantly switch between activity modes*. While seeking new content I mix in a healthy dose of technical docs with social finds, marking them for later search with the same script then post filtering them into topic folders.

*= I look forward to track in Superfeedr and Datasift's alerts to automate and tune this process. 

For you hacker types avoiding the mode swap between seeking news and consuming posts is similar to the benefit of front and back end scripting in the same language. There's a thought tax to syntax switching.