Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Global News OPINION: So Why Another News Site?

The Editor is a news junkie, and, particularly, a "hard news" and a "breaking news" junkie.  His health largely confines him to his apartment, the grocery and drug stores, and the social service agencies.  The Internet is his lifeline and his portal on the world.

In his surfing he has become more and more dissatisfied with how the news is presented on the Web.  Since news is new, search engines alone fail to give him adequate news access.  You have to input search terms that you already know and the new is what you don't know yet.  Global News Continues.

This 21st Century world permits no one traditional news outlet to cover it comprehensively.  There is simply too much important news going on in too many places, and the most comprehensive of them--AP, Reuters, CNN,--do not even cover the world adequately when amalgamated together.  Whole regions and whole ranges of stories are simply neglected by all of them, both individually and together. 

The Web has the solution to this:  RSS Syndication and News Aggregators.  The most public, and the best, of these last is Google News.  They bring to the problem the same talent for establishing relevance on the Web that brings them 3 out of 4 of all search queries day in and day out.  But Google quite sensibly focuses on the limited range of the most popular news stories that can be placed conveniently on one webpage, and chooses to achieve variety of coverage by selecting among all the various news sources covering these stories and ranking them by immediate and real time readership popularity.

But there still remain three problems even with this.  The very popularity of this aggregator itself tends to skew its own results by presenting one source at a time to hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions, of readers.  So just appearing on the aggregator maintains the initial readership advantage of source number one.

Also, as the world becomes smaller conceptually, it remains just as large physically as it has always been, and broad ranging news coverage by an outlet's own correspondents is incredibly expensive.  In America, virtually all city and metropolitan newspapers have been reduced to relying on those same major wire services, particularly AP, for any and all international coverage.  So the same basic story in virtually the same written form appears over and over again on the aggregator with merely a different news masthead attached to it.

Finally, no single webpage can contain all the important stories.

Now you are probably asking, "Who can read more than that?"  But, if you think about it, everybody actually reads very little news, but they scan quite a lot of it, choosing to read a little of it based on interest.  What the Editor wanted, then, was the maximum variety of headlines to scan.

Other website owners, particularly political bloggers, have noticed these failings also and have put together larger and far more wide-ranging sets of stories on multiple pages.  But even here, what has resulted are homepages which started out resembling 3 ring circuses, and have ballooned into multiple sets of 3 ring circuses, full of links to stories on the innumerable other pages of the site and with no ringmaster to keep them sorted out for the reader's convenience.

These new news-and-opinion home pages are simply unscanable with any degree of efficiency or comfort, because they are too full of competing content.  And wading through the links to get to the real stories was wasting a tremendous amount of the Editor's time.

So he installed his own aggregator on his laptop, and began sifting through the hundreds of different news sources in English available on the Web, comparing the coverage of each, eliminating those who were mere duplicates of better sources, and finally achieving what he desired:  the maximum number of different headlines to scan in about 20 minutes that ranged the farthest distance across the globe.  He also discovered that the most time efficient way to view these was to treat the headlines of each feed as a set of news pages to be scanned in sequence.

This was a dreadful amount of work to do, and still is a fair amount of work to maintain.  But he has persisted because he has become better informed about current events than he ever has been in his life.

It struck him one day that there surely must be others like him searching for a source to give them the same type, range, and variety of news.  So he started this blog to present to all the fruits of his endeavors and, as with all news sources, to bring himself some advertising revenue for his trouble.

He knew what he wanted for the site--simplicity and readability--and he knew that what he could realistically expect to achieve was a list of links to the most differentiated news feeds which can be scanned one at a time.  They are over on the left of this page under the heading Global News Feeds.

There are only 25 of them.  The Editor has always been a fast scanner, and he has found this number to be the maximum he can conveniently scan through in 20-30 minutes.  By setting such a limit, the site itself becomes a pleasure to navigate, since you don't have to massively and intensively scan and sort through the site on your way to finding the place to scan and sort through the stories.

Such was the initial concept of Global News Portal and everything has been done to get you, the reader, to the good stuff in as little time as possible.

But there is more that the Editor wished to offer.  The initial research into feeds that brought the widest variety of Global coverage led him to discover that, truly, not all coverage is created equal.  And some sources tell their stories in depth better than they present breaking news and better, as well, than everybody else.  So Global News Portal also provides a list of those 25 sources that the Editor turns to when he wants more than just headlines to scan.

These are the Global News Sources that you see on the left.  If you really want to know why they have been chosen you must sample them for yourself.  However, these sources are chosen not just for quality, but also to provide you with the same highly differentiated variety of coverage as the feeds.

These two link lists take up very little space and this presented a grand opportunity to apply the same concept to the top ranked news and opinion blogs on current events, and to a select few opinion makers, of all political persuasions, that the Editor himself enjoys.

Since, hopefully, most of the readership here gets out and around more than the Editor does, the site also provides a few little conveniences like driving direction, a running news ticker, a marvelous World Clock which is also an entertaining statistical Almanac, and so forth.

So here you have Global News Portal, a blog from a man who couldn't find what he really wanted to read on the Internet, and decided to create it and share it.


Global News Home Page

No comments:

Post a Comment