It's Time for the News Aggregators to Come Clean

09 Sep
Steve Rubel via Micro Persuasion shared by 4 people

A news story from 2002 about United Airlines filing for bankruptcy tripped up investors yesterday when it re-appeared on Google News, Barry Schwartz reports. The Google News team follows with their own explanation. However, the entire issue raises the lack of transparency that permeates the major news aggregation sites. It's time for them all to come clean.

According to Reuters consumers are increasingly turning to news aggregation sites for their info fix because of the growth of the mobile web and an appetite for broad perspectives. These sites, which include Google News, Yahoo News, Topix and Daylife, differ from RSS readers. Feed readers also roll up news but they put the user in complete control of the sources they consume.

News aggregation sites operate without editors. So, they're prone to the occassional glitches like the one that occurred yesterday. The problems are deeper, however. Most of these sites also roll up blog content and they don't tell you that. Yahoo just recently quietly started to links to blogs.

The problem is that these sites don't delineate blogs from news sources. As we all know the quality can range here and that presents a challenge for the reader in determining who to trust.

Although this specific incident with United Airlines did not invovle blogs, it underscores the lack of transparency that permeates these sites. They are doing everyone a disservice by not providing detailed information on who they chose aggregate and why they roll up some sites and ignore others.

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