News publishers have the opportunity to enter the curation business by leveraging their reputations as trusted sources, and on proven technologies.
Curation has been consistently ignored by big media companies. By curation, I mean lifting what is relevant from a journalistic perspective and selectively linking to it. This is the implementation of Jeff Jarvis’ 2007 encyclical: “Cover what you do best and link to the rest”.
This principle collided with the conservatism of the news industry. Linking to other sites, large or small, was viewed as a ludicrous idea — “Sending my traffic outside, are you nuts?! ” — by the very same crowd who later spent countless resources to show up high on Facebook and Google. Now in a funny turnaround, they realize that Facebook brings them next to nothing and that, at least according to Rupert Murdoch, platforms should pay for premium content (Dream on, Rupert…)
Now let’s look at the future.
There are many reasons for publishers to reconsider developing a curation service.
1. Their journalistic firepower is dwindling. In the US alone, the traditional journalism workforce has been halved from its peak in the 1990s. The ability to cover the news broadly and in depth is at its lowest point (paving the way for historical misses, such as the strength of the Trump electorate).
2. Symmetrically, the pool of sources has never been greater. Expertise is now widely available in every field — but it can be hard to find and to evaluate.
3. Publishers, old and new, tend to underestimate the power of their authority. A link suggested by a trusted source is invaluable for readers; far from abandoning their referral, they tend to come back to their valued news source.