How to save the news

newser.comThe news as we know it is ending but technology might save it, Michael Wolff writes in Vanity Fair. He points to the research we’ve all seen: under 30s have no “news habit.” When they want information, they don’t browse for it on a news site–they search for it. “The news business—our crowd of overexcited people narrating events as they happen—is going out of business,” he says. But it may still have a future, shaped by software engineers who are trying to “get the algorithm right.”

…these incredibly unresponsive people may well possess untapped magic that, if they wanted to, could make for all sorts of wondrous tricks which might save the news.”What about a sliding bar?” Mike Wu, a software engineer, offers just a little grudgingly. “Like from hard to soft news. So you can set it where you want to?”

Wolff is doing more than musing about all this. In collaboration with Highbeam Research, he’s launched the beta site Newser.com (tag line: Faster, Smarter News). At first glance, it appears to be just a visually attractive way of presenting news from traditional sources. But it’s worth exploring. In addition to the traditional nav bar to news “categories” at the top (world, politics, business etc.), the site displays news links by “topic” (current issues in the news that will vary from day to day). Could this be “the new news thing?”

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