Commentary

'The Daily Me' Is Good News For Journalism

With newspapers on a steep decline, and more readers turning to the Internet for their news, the growing online news personalization phenomenon coined "The Daily Me" is being hotly debated, with some arguing that giving readers the power to handpick their own headlines is a scary thought.

But we shouldn't be scared. The trend isn't bad, and it isn't new. In fact, far from being an enemy to news media, "The Daily Me" trend stands to help foster journalism.

Critics of the phenomenon believe giving us the power to "become our own editors" will encourage insulation and bias. But we have always been our own editors. Every time we consume media, we make choices, consciously or not. When we skip articles, choose one newspaper over another, switch television channels, or tune in to a radio station we decide what we want to consume. The Internet has simply provided tools to make the selection process broader, easier and better structured.

If and how you "personalize" your news experience is simply a question of new methods, not new habits.

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When readers actively select their own topics, they are typically more engaged, not less, than those who rely solely on the editorial choices made for them in traditional outlets. Some online readers who personalize their news viewed about twice the number of pages viewed by non-registered users.

Of course, the editorial choices of professional news organizations also play a critical role in informing citizens, and a good personalized news service will still direct users to quality reporting from traditional organizations. After all, just because the medium is different doesn't mean we should accept standards below those set by professional journalists. Quality news personalization is not about breadth or depth; it's about both.

So while many newspaper reporters harbor misguided skepticism about emerging news platforms, the industry should recognize that journalism isn't going anywhere -- it's only the devices from which we consume content that are changing. And personalized news sites best serve those new devices by trimming the headline fat down to content manageable on small screens.

But going a step further, there is a fundamental question to be answered: Are we better off letting others -- namely news editors -- choose our daily news dose based on the common denominator of the audience? Of course not. Each of us has a responsibility to seek out and understand conflicting views.

Personalizing the news is not only a reality, it is a necessity. It's the best way to empower journalists to do what they do best and win far more readers than newsprint can hope to reach.

If that won't make all of us more informed, what will?

3 comments about "'The Daily Me' Is Good News For Journalism".
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  1. Barbara Khan from Prestige Publishing and Marketing, April 23, 2009 at 7:36 a.m.

    One of my great laments over the past several years and that news has ceased to be news, and journalists seem to be pontificating all over the place. Well if not pontificating, at least writing with an obvious slant. That goes even more for the cable news channels which have clearly drawn a line in the sand regarding the school of thought they support. I am thrilled that with venue of internet we can do our own research and seek out information that is just that, information. I believe there are also editors and writers who present the facts and allow us to digest and decide. We just have to seek them out.The options presented by the internet far exceed picking up a newspaper here and there.
    I fondly remember when I used to buy the Washington Post on Sunday and pour over the various sections with in depth articles. I called it my learning for the week. The paper, like so many, has slimmed down, with the emphasis on catch headlines, and gotcha content. However, the good news is that I am in the drivers seat now and not dependent on the sometimes skewed judgment of the editorial board. I have the world before me on the internet and when all is said and done, good journalism is good journalism. I just have to look for it.

  2. Bruce Kasanoff from Now Possible, April 23, 2009 at 7:46 a.m.

    Excellent points. You may appreciate this related article:

    One Way to Save Newspapers
    http://nowpossible.com/blog1/2009/04/16/one-way-to-save-newspapers/

  3. Ash Nashed from Adiant, April 23, 2009 at 8:41 a.m.

    I agree completely with your argument here. The Internet has exposed us to so much more news on a daily basis than we are capable of digesting. Our approach to this issue has been to create tools at www.congoo.com that let users build and share their own personal or business news portals, by selecting from thousands of news categories, and entering keywords.

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