Posted by Tom Foremski - February 22, 2010
BusinessWeek reports that AOL has hired 500 journalists and is using traffic tools to determine which news stories to report, and how much traffic its news stories generate.
Tim Armstrong, CEO of AOL tells BusinessWeek:
"We really want to enhance journalism with technology. We feel like we have a strategic window to invest in quality content."
Surely he means "quantity content?"
This story doesn't make any sense. Using tools to determine which news stories to write? What does this mean?
AOL will look at popular news and then write their own news stories? Well, it's too late by then.
You need experienced editors to assign news stories. A newsroom doesn't work by monitoring what people are searching for, or what someone has already published, and then writing the news stories.
The bigger issue is that we have plenty of news.
Look at Techmeme and other news aggregators. Each news story has dozens, even hundreds of similar news stories from other sites. People tend not to read a news story again somewhere else, they read the news story once.
That means each news story, even the original news story that broke the news, has to share the traffic with all other sources.
Yet Mr Armstrong believes that this is the way AOL can succeed, by piling onto a news flow that is already diluted with multiple sources.
There is tons of news out there, but there isn't much analysis. News analysis is rare and there are few good sources.
And that's why I focus on news analysis -- original content that you cannot get anywhere else.
I don't need to rush and try to break news embargos like some other news sites. I can sit back and craft a news analysis that no one else has, such as my iPad analysis [iPad Is an iDRM Storefront For Apple Ambitions To Dominate All Digital Media Sales].
This was published an hour after the news was released but gained a huge amount of traffic because it was something that no one else had at the time.
News is a commodity, news analysis is not. That's where AOL and its 500 journalists should be focused - creating original content.
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