Aggregation Ethics

We talked in class about ways to aggregate content from other sites without prompting criticisms of impropriety. Linking to original stories, and properly quoting and attributing material are all key. (See Jack Shafer's take on the Jim Romenesko/Poynter flap.) In the comments area below, please link to a blog that aggregates content, and say in a quick summary if you think it does it well or poorly. Please be diplomatic; the world can see your comments.


Allison said...

The Daily Beast originally grew, in part, from the idea of aggregating content. One of the site's main features is its "Cheat Sheet," which finds stories from around the web, summarizes them, offers links to the original story, and runs the stream down the center of its homepage. While the summaries themselves rarely include attribution in context, they always link to the original story at the bottom of the summary.

In this example, the Daily Beast summarizes a BBC article using nearly the same language. The BBC article says, "The office added that all the accused could face the death penalty if convicted." The Daily Beast summary says, "The office also said that if convicted all could face the death penalty." While the Daily Beast does a good job of linking to the original source, given that the language is so similar, they could do a better job of clearly attributing the information.

Lucas High said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lucas High said...

The AVClub.com is a website devoted to pop-culture and the entertainment industry. The site is broken down into three components: movies, television and music. Each of these subcategories features a section for reviews and a section for news. While the reviews are all original content generated by AVClub writers, the news section is made up of stories aggregated from places like Deadline.com, The Hollywood Reporter, and Variety.

The AVClub does a great job of taking news stories from other sources and putting their own comedic spin on them. While they always provide links to the original stories, occasionally the news items don’t expressly attribute to the original source. In this example, there is a hyperlink buried within the text, but nothing written within the story to attribute it to Deadline. If a reader doesn’t click the link, he or she has no idea as to the source of the original content.

VoyeurLawyer said...

Fark.com is a news aggregation site that describes itself as “a news aggregator and an edited social networking news site.” According to its FAQs (or FarQs as they call it), the site receives about 2,000 news submissions every day. Site curators then choose the “funny and weird notable news -- and not-news -- of the day.”

Fark is one of the web's best sources for offbeat, humorous news of the weird. As mentioned in a 2011 article on lifehacker.com, “there are real people behind the service making sure that the best stories float to the top and the uninteresting ones disappear, still a different approach from the latest generation of social and crowd-curated news sites.”

The layout of the site gives the source with an icon, a category tag for the story (such as stupid, obvious, scary, amusing, weird, sick) and then a snarky synopsis headline. The first story on the site when I visited was a Today Show article categorized as “stupid.” The Fark headline reads “Welcome to the House of Pretension; I am Jean-Paul, your waiter. Today's specials include carpaccio of Maldivian yellow fin tuna, free-range organic brown wild duck breast stuffed with Israeli pearl couscous, and a 25% tip.” When you click through to the Today Show site, the actual headline reads: “Is 25% the new standard for tipping? Depends where you eat.” The article describes a phenomenon in Manhattan called “tip creep,” where the gratuities for food service are reaching new heights. The story is aggregated from The New York Post and reports examples of suggested gratuities as high as 30 percent at Manhattan restaurants. Not exactly an earth-shattering piece of journalism, but not exactly “stupid” either.

“Fark is what fills space when mass media runs out of news. Fark is supposed to look like news... but it's not news. It's Fark.” Fark.com seems to curate and provide aggregated content in a journalistically ethical manner, even if the news is on the lighter side.

Sean Henderson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sean Henderson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sean Henderson said...

Popurls.com is a single page news aggregator website. The top portion of the site consists of a "popular today" section that includes stories that are currently trending. The rest of the site consists of an exhaustive aggregation of news, popular videos, photographs, pop culture pieces, celebrity gossip, sports, business and just about anything else you can think of, all on just one web page. The idea behind the site was to provide aggregation of aggregation sites and create one place for someone to browse through all the current news that other sites are reporting on.

Time Magazine listed popurls.com as one of the top 50 best websites of 2009. "There's nothing to remember to check or install. It's the perfect homepage," writes Time's Adam Fisher.

While popurls.com is beyond overwhelming in the scope of news and media it offers, it is nonetheless a simplified way to browse through many aggregation sites at once without ever having to navigate away from one simple homepage. It's also a great way to waste hours watching stupid You Tube videos or reading articles like "New Born Loses Faith In Humanity After Record Six Days on TheOnion.com.

WildeJessica said...

The Drudge Report, run by conservative internet journalist Matt Drudge, is a news aggregation website that links to stories primarily about politics. It is essentially just a list of links with occasional pictures to stories that Drudge has compiled.

In terms of attributing properly, the Drudge Report does a good job. It does not pretend to create any of the stories as its own, and each story is properly linked. The list of links is actually a list of headlines. Someone could read the website without clicking on any of the links and have some idea of what the news is. However, Drudge does not use the exact headline from each news source and instead creates a new headline, linking to the original story, that reveals a little about his politics--or take on each story.

For example, an AP story with the headline, "Tax Penalty to hit nearly 6M uninsured people," is linked on the Drudge Report. But the linked headline on his site reads, "SURPRISE: OBAMACARE TAX TO HIT 6 MILLION..." Though only slightly different, Drudge has managed to insert an opinion on the subject.

I think it is clear that Drudge is not pretending to list each of the headlines as they appear on the original news site, though it could be deceiving. And he is encouraging viewers to click on original stories. He doesn't use other people's quotes as his own or attribute improperly, but he does manage to put his own spin on the news.

ymshah09 said...

Gawker is an online pop culture blog focusing on celebrities, scandal, and the world of entertainment in general. They regularly aggregate breaking news from other sites, such at TMZ in this story about Lindsay Lohan's latest antics.

The reporter has clearly attributed TMZ in essentially at the beginning of each paragraph. They have also been very thorough with linking, having hyperlinks both at the start and end of the article making it clear the content was obtained from TMZ.

Gawker isn't always so thorough about attributing, however. In this article , Gawker uses quotes and information obtained from a local CBS news affiliate in Denver. Although the original article is hyperlinked at the start of the story, no other mention is made and there is no attribution of the obtained information. All of the quotes in the Gawker story are re-used from those in the original CBS story. I think they should have at least attributed CBS in the first paragraph and at the end to make it clear to readers the information was being aggregated.

Julia said...

Yahoo.com encompasses so many aspects of online life that it is easy to get carried away on this site for hours at a time. It’s widely know for it’s Yahoo! blogs, but it’s Yahoo! News site is also one of it’s main attractions, (along with it’s fantasy sports leagues).

The Yahoo! News site aggregates news from many outlets and wire services, including Yahoo! News, ABC News, AP, Reuters and others. The site updates the headlines regularly throughout the day, but the order in which the stories are listed (with time or date of publication) is not necessarily always in order of the most recent at the top. (Ex. The first story can be from an hour and 47 minutes ago, and the second from 16 hours ago and the third from three hours ago.)

The stories on the home page can be sorted by outlet: Yahoo! News, ABC News, AP and Reuters. They are attributed appropriately, and do not claim to be the site own original content, unless it explicitly says Yahoo!. Once you click on one of the tabs and narrow it down to one outlet, the stories appear in order of publication, which is a good feature to have on an aggregate site.

I like that the top three stories are accompanied by photos at the top left of the page because I think it draws tons of readers directly to them that way. However, these stories do not show which news organization produced the story until you click on the headline, which means you could be redirected to a story by the Associated Press or a yahoo news blog contributor.

They also offer a feature for local news, which you can receive by entering the name of the city or postal code, and a “News For You” option on the sidebar, both of which customize the page and make it easier for readers to find everything they want in one place. At the bottom of the page there are more topic specific stories organized by categories such as U.S. news, World news, Odd news (very entertaining), Politics, Science and Technology.

Aside from the few downsides like some of the stories being out of order and clicking before you know who wrote the top stories, I give Yahoo! News a top grade for news aggregate sites.

Morgan G. said...

A popular news aggregate site is Reddit The site is simple and text heavy but it is a true aggregate.

The site is one of the first aggregate sites developed and has a running tally of what is shared and most popular on the internet. The tabs also help users segment out info that they might be looking for.

While the layout isn't as streamline as some of the more modern aggregate websites I think it's a simple and easy to use site.

Jenny Kay Paulson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jenny Kay Paulson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jenny Kay Paulson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jenny Kay Paulson said...

Pulse is a visually-pleasing array of news headlines. It was originally made for tablet and smart phone devices, which has recently gone to the web. The reader can customize their page to include news sources of interest-- everything from politics to entertainment. I have found it to be a good one-stop-shop for gathering my news.

The only challenge is that they don't show all the headlines from all of the news organizations. They just show 4-8 for each publication. I have to keep in mind that they are picking and choosing headlines, and may leave out some that may be of interest to me.

Soongy12 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Soongy12 said...

A popular aggregation site similar to Google News and Yahoo! News
Bing News, which links to a variety of stories from different sources.

It is basically Microsoft's response to search engine news aggregation sites. Like similar sites, it leads with headlines and top stories and includes different topics throughout the page.

I like how the articles' publications are clearly identified and one topic doesn't dominate the whole page like it does in Yahoo! News. However, I think the site could include more of the lede in its preview of the article so the reader has a better idea of what the story is about.

I think overall it is well organized and that it's a little cleaner than Google News and Yahoo! News. The layout is simple and not overwhelming, but is not quite as visually appealing as the other two, which include larger and more dynamic photos.

K. Nancoo-Russell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
K. Nancoo-Russell said...

The site News360 (http://news360.com/#category/1) is an example of a good aggregator because it clearly attributes the stories curated to the original source. It states at the top of each article the source it was taken from, listing the organization’s name, the time it was posted, and the category it was listed under. (e.g. 22 hours ago from MSNBC in Politics).

By clicking on a particular story, users are taken to a page with the first few paragraphs of the story and can choose to go directly to the source’s site for the full story by clicking on a tab below the story to the right, called “Read Original.”

To the bottom left of the story is a tab with the source’s name, example Mashable, which takes viewers to an internal page within news360 which is dedicated to Mashable and shows all other stories from Mashable featured by News360.

On the right side of the story on the home page, or on the top once the story is selected, there are also tabs to other news organizations which carried that story, allowing the user the option to read the versions of the story by other sources as well. Users can also sort through stories by categories such as technology, politics, crime etc. using the tabs on the left.

When News360 offers viewers the option to read the original story at the source’s site, it does not open the link in a new tab as does many other aggregators, but rather replaces its page to the source’s.

Overall, I think the site is aesthetically pleasing; simple and clean, not cluttered.

Jeremy B said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeremy B said...

Perhaps no other blog better illustrates the fine line that news aggregators must walk than the Washington Post's blogPost. The blog features a handful of posts each day dedicated to breaking news stories. In an average post, three or four different stories might be linked to within a post. Some are from the Washington Post, and some are from other newspapers. The point of the blog is to get clicks and to generate traffic.

The format of the blog came under scrutiny this past April when a 20-something blogger, Elizabeth Flock, was pressured into resigning after the paper ran an editor's note said that she had committed a "significant ethical lapse" in not properly crediting a source in one of her posts. The Post's ombudsman skewered the paper's editors for not elucidating the publication's standards for citing outside sources in blog posts. He also noted that the sheer volume of posts Flock was required to write daily put an unreasonable stress on her. She has since signed on with U.S. News & World Report.

blogPost does a good job of giving credit where credit is due (literally). When a post refers (and links) to a scoop by another publication, bloggers generally preface it with "as reported by." This isn't the case for links to news stories in the Post. Still, there were some times when I was surprised when I hovered my mouse over a link and saw where it was headed. It's a fine line to walk, because if a post is full of references and shout outs to reporters and publications, it becomes less interesting to a reader. Still, especially after the Flock incident, I think that publications are trying to play it safe and to attribute whenever it is possibly necessary to do so.

Jason Ruiter said...

Digg.com is a news aggregate I've heard much about but never looked into.

Below the emphasized title and large picture and above the caption is a small but noticeable font that links you to the original story. For the purpose of crediting the author, I think that would suffice.

As to the site itself, "upvotes" operate through the commercial and populist net engines of facebook and twitter, where someone can "digg" the article, giving it the position it has on the homepage. A seemingly novel idea, but when I looked around I saw no simple correlation of less diggs to more diggs up or down the page, making me wonder: just what is the purpose of a "digg"? Is it some illusion of self-empowerment coupled with the a commercialism angel of patriotism because we can now "vote" for our news?

The FAQ says this: "Any Digg user can digg a story, and every digg helps to inform where that story appears on the Digg homepage and Digg iPhone app."

What interested me was that Digg's stories are controlled by Digg moderators, through an “algorithm”. The home page is the only page and no comments are allowed. When the site's name comes from the idea of "voting" stories I would think the site revolves around that idea.

At this point, it’s obviously the news which keeps the site floating and not the impression of user control/voice.