Week 1 – Aggregation

18 Jan

(Email: tylernparks@gmail.com)

Curation and aggregation both reflect the journalist’s greater duty as a gatekeeper. Whereas curation involves stemming the sheer flow of content from the public (as reflected in the story told by Nieman), aggregation deals with vetting that content when it comes from other journalistic sources.

It’s an aggregator’s responsibility to make the outsourced story look compelling and original while giving proper credit to the original source. Too much originality can lead to accusations of plagiarism (more often than not, these are unfounded, but they still take away from the integrity of the aggregator’s publication) while a by-the-book quoting will have the reader questioning why they read the story on the aggregation site, if at all. Many critics of plagiarism accusers (as exemplified by the Herald/Huffington case) say that if they had done more work in the first place they wouldn’t be so offended when aggregators base stories off of their own.

A further issue arises with neutrality in aggregation. The best aggregators take the main ideas or choice bits from the sourced story and supplement it with original research. Obviously attribution is still important in all phases. As the Poynter article explains, a properly supported story will cut a good balance between the interests of the readers and those of the aggregator’s sources.

So an aggregator’s goal, then, is to create something interesting that makes people want to visit both the aggregator and its sources. Aggregation itself boils down to re-editing a story, with elements of optimization thrown in.

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