This week was a big one for those who aspire to “fix” news on the internet. Consider the following three developments.
- Ezra Klein, a well known writer formerly with Jeff Bezos’s Washington Post, announced that he is starting a new internet-based publication at Vox Media. His goal with the new publication is to improve how news delivers, “crucial context alongside information.” No launch date was mentioned
- Jason Calacanis, a well-known blog entrepreneur who sold Weblogs, Inc. to AOL, launched Inside.com. Inside.com essentially offers a stream of news that is curated by people and optimized for mobile devices. According to Calacanis’s launch blog post Inside.com aims to help people navigate, “this new world filled with social media, blogging and stories breaking in real time…”
- Facebook announced Paper. Paper is a standalone iPhone app that aims to help people, “explore and share stories from friends and the world around you.” Like Inside.com, Paper features curated content, but it also integrates a person’s Facebook News Feed and allows people to publish their own stories. The Paper app launches on February 3.
In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing and subsequent manhunt for the perpetrators I had some thoughts about how the Internet has affected the flow of news in the dozen years since the 9/11 attacks. I think it’s important to point out that I always bristle when people make grand pronouncements about the impact of a particular service or technology directly on the heels of a major catastrophe so that’s not what I’m trying to do here. Rather, I wanted to highlight the differences between my approach to keeping up with the news following each of those major stories.
On 9/11 I was sitting in an office with my my Internet Explorer browser showing my My Yahoo portal page when a headline appeared that said something like “Plane Strikes World Trade Center.” When I clicked the link it went to a page with just a title and no content. On April 15, 2013 I had just started to walk from my car to an airport terminal when I received a push notification on my iPhone from the Seeking Alpha app. I clicked through the push notification to read the update, which linked to a post on Twitter (by a non-news reporter) with a picture that clearly showed a smoky scene and blood on the ground. So while I was initially confused on 9/11 as to the nature of the incident, I was more aware right away on April 15 that something nefarious had occurred.