Friday, June 1, 2007

Huffington Post vs. Shovelware

Followed a link to Romanesko and found something else there that caught my eye. Steve Johnson, internet critic at the Chicago Tribune, has this to say...

'Many of the Web's news aggregators (Google News, Topix) and even some original news sites have the feel of "shovelware" -- a series of headlines selected and shoveled onto the page by computer algorithm.

'What The Huffington Post does extremely well is select and highlight its stories to appeal to its audience. Even more important than the whiff of progressive politics is the feeling that there is active human intelligence making choices.'

First, what is an "internet critic" and why do I need it?

Second, I suspect this guy's inhaled more than a few whiffs of progressive politics if he doesn't see HuffPo for what it is: a gale of Democratic- and left-biased opinion. Which is fine. But you already had The Nation, The Atlantic, Washington Monthly, Mother Jones, Daily Kos etc. Not to mention the New York Times, Washington Post, and Guardian (and don't forget the Chicago Tribune!).

Google News is a great idea: instead of filtering the news through unavoidably biased humans, set up an algorithm to highlight the most popular stories. It's fundamentally more democratic than anything you'll find at HuffPo or any human-edited news/opinion site. That's not to say that having a human editor is necessarily a bad thing. But if nothing else it's definitely great to have both. The way Mr. Internet Critic talks, he wants his news 100% filtered 24 hours/day.