Apologies, I’m sure both of you have seen this before. And know, for yourselves, how many nails it hits firmly on the head.

http://www.scunnered.com/?p=9

My attention was – I will admit – first drawn to the post by the sum the lad was paid for simply the domain name, www.ireport.com . $750,000. For a name. No content, no business model, no launch plan. Just the name. I report.

It was fascinating – particularly for someone who ten days earlier had paid £16 plus VAT for www.mylocalwriter.com and had a vague notion of where we might find content, what a theoretical business model might look like – water lilies, long tails, etc – and via Paul’s kids might, possibly, have a potential launch model.

But as you read on through Kyle’s brilliant posting, so it heads ever nearer to the very heart of what we are all trying to figure – where’s the value? For if there is no value in anything we, as journalists do, where on earth is anyone going to find a business model that rests on something of no value?

Read through Kyle’s post and see how the wild haggis reached through to the front page of a CNN site. Unedited. Unfiltered.

I can’t for the life of me say I’m an ardent devotee of www.iReport.com – and, after all, it is still in its ‘beta’ phase. The bit where we all do trial and error.

And I just wonder whether they’ve tried unfiltered and unedited and realised that, maybe, they’ve made an error. For if my eyes don’t deceive me, they’ve tweaked the site – perhaps not; perhaps the ‘Newsiest Now’ function was there when Kyle posted. It is difficult to be sure from the freeze frame of his wild haggis shot.

But, either way, there now on the top of www.iReport.com is the ‘Newsiest Now’ pictures of the day. What’s this?, is the question they themselves offer.

So what’s Newsiest Now?

“The “newsiest” iReports are sorted in lists at the top of each section on the homepage and in other places around the site. Newsiest is a calculation that combines freshness, popularity, activity and ratings. The idea behind newsiest is that all the contributions the iReport.com community of users make to the site – stories, comments, ratings, pageviews – and what CNN producers pick for their own stories could add up to tell us something new about what people think is newsworthy…

Which is fascinating – bearing in mind that iReport is ‘Unedited. Unfiltered. News.’

Because, for me, there are certain words that leap out of what ‘Newsiest’ is, that tend to suggest otherwise. Certainly when it comes to the first two strings of iReport’s bow. That, lo and behold, it is edited; it is filtered.

The ‘newsiest’ iReports are “sorted in lists”.

Newsiest is a “calculation”.

Based on “freshness, popularity, activity and ratings” – it would be nice to think that truth, veracity and honesty might figure somewhere in the calculation, but one step at a time, I guess…

And then this: “The idea behind newsiest is that all the contributions the iReport.com community of users make to the site – stories, comments, ratings, pageviews – and what CNN producers pick for their own stories could add up to tell us something new about what people think is newsworthy…

OK, so which “people” are now thinking an iReport contribution as “newsworthy” – the contributors of all that unedited or unfiltered ‘I-reported’ material or “what CNN producers pick for their own stories”?

Because in CNN’s own words to qualify for the ‘Newsiest Now’ – and that’s the big, fat strip at the top of their home page; the one that once boasted a picture of aftermath of the wild haggis hunt – there is sorting going on, there’s calculations being made and there’s producers picking…

Sort. Calculation. Pick.

Almost, it seems, a case of iReport, but – actually – weDecide.

For those are the words that an editor uses. Sort, calculation and pick.

As he or she is handed the unenviable task of filtering all the daily wheat from the UGC chaff; from spotting the wild haggis hunt in amidst the genuine and shocking footage from an Olympic torch protest.

In a way, all credit to CNN. Because they are actually doing us all a favour by putting the ‘value’ back in. 

Because someone has to ‘sort, calculate and pick’ from all the explosion of information out there; someone has to make sense of it all; to find a tune within that wall of noise – to sort the wind section from the brass, to calculate the best piece for them all to play and then pick the best soloists to go up front.

Someone, in short, has to conduct the orchestra. And that role has value. And that role belongs to a journalist. And, ideally, always will.

 

 

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