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The Rich Get Richer


At a conference in rainy Atlanta, Krishna Bharat of Google News showed slides illustrating what I had previously observed : how news aggregators help bury original investigative reporting. The computer, he says, “notices that a story is hot” due to “aggregate editorial interest,” meaning the same story turns up in multiple sources. So, every newspaper, agency, website, TV and radio newscast, etc. mentions the Clinton/Obama plagiarism story and correspondingly it comes up at the top of Google News.

This is exactly what does not happen with a single investigative story, no matter how good the reporting, how reliable the source (the case I originally wrote about was NPR, but it could just as easily have been the San Jose Mercury News), or how potentially important the story. It’s not the fault of Google News of course, they’re only reflecting what happens in the media world that existed before them. Certain news items create a feeding frenzy, others float off into oblivion.

Later in the day the phrase “the cream rises to the top” was spoken at least twice in an hour-long panel. How do we test whether that is really true?

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1 Comment

  1. Jon Garfunkel

    February 25, 2008 @ 1:20 am


    Hi Persephone–

    I responded earlier this week to your Feb. 7th framing of this problem.

    Indeed it is not an easy question to answer. Obviously, neither Google News, nor Megite nor Techmeme are news-makers that are able to promote a little-known story. Many times you need an A-Lister to pump it out to a larger audience to try and get critical mass. (Welcome to the Berkman Center. Be glad to discuss this further)