new article: "Innovation and Aggregation: Why News Needs A Bigger—and More Beneficial—Tapeworm"

From the Community Media Workshop’s “The NEW news: The Journalism We Want and Need” report:

While the lines continue to blur among the quality and types of content produced by traditional media and their Web-based counterparts — including amateurs, hobbyists and start-ups — the battle over distribution is just heating up.

Wall Street Journal editor Robert Thomson recently wrote of Web sites, like Google, that aggregate content without paying fees to the content creators, “There is no doubt that certain Web sites are best described as parasites or tech tapeworms in the intestines of the Internet.”

This criticism of aggregation without payment has merit but misses the broader point. Once traditional media operations opened themselves up to search engines and began sharing their stories in RSS feeds, the cat was out of the bag. Disconnecting their online presence from the rest of the Internet simply isn’t an option, and nearly all experiments with Internet-only subscription fees have been unsustainable.

This article is part of a larger report on the state of journalism and local information in Chicago, commissioned by the Chicago Community Trust as part of the Knight Information Needs effort. The full report is available online here.

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