I was reading Sunday’s San Francisco Chronicle (and yes, I do read actual newspapers still), when I stumbled across an article entitled “Content Fleet offers publishers hot tips”. Basically, the article highlighted Content Fleet’s software which monitors internet popularity, and how it is being sold to media houses to help journalists know what subjects would generate the most traffic and interest.
At first I didn’t think much of it, and I went about my day. But I kept coming back to that article, and here’s why.
Yes, Content Fleet’s software may be ingenious, and I’m sure it has value to publishers and media houses, but what frustrates me is that this information is being used to drive content. Software like this urges journalists to focus on what is popular rather than what is newsworthy.
The truth is, not everything in news is glamorous. Important topics aren’t always the ones that sell, and the stuff that sells isn’t always pretty. Software like Content Fleet’s only adds to the already competitive field, urging journalists to push a popular agenda rather than one that informs its viewers- one that pleases viewers rather than benefits them.
Let me be clear, I understand that the news industry is exactly this, an industry. And a competitive industry at that. Perhaps it is naiive of me to hope that the news be delivered to us in hopes of educating the public as opposed to keeping viewers, but regardless- software like Content Fleet’s only adds to the existing disparity.
But say it does come down to consumers driving content. Say we get to determine what’s on the front page. Let’s vote for the impactful, meaningful stories- even if they don’t have a clever title or cool photo.
Let’s vote for the unglamorous story.