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News Portals Digg.com, Shrewd.com, Drudge Report and Google News
Home News & Society News
By: Steve Baba Email Article
Word Count: 907 Digg it | Del.icio.us it | Google it | StumbleUpon it

  

In the past, because of the cost of purchasing a newspaper and the time required to watch TV news, even the well-informed had only a handful of news sources. But today, because of the abundance of free, advertising-supported, news online, the problem is how to choose which stories to read from all the free news websites.

Matt Drudge, of the well-known DrudgeReport.com, was one of the first to attack this problem by simply linking to interesting news articles, which he updated many times a day. Because news becomes old fast, often within hours, keeping a list of news links current is a major difficulty in for Drudge-style news portals.

The advantage the Drudge Report has over core news sites such as the Washington Post or Fox News is that Drudge links to many different news websites. Core news sites such as the Washington Post and Fox News usually link to their own stories. To sell more advertising, itís in the both the Washington Postís and Fox Newsí interest to keep people reading their own sites.

Anyone, regardless of qualifications can start a Drudge-style news portal, as long as they are willing to put in the hours following the news 24/7 and updating their sites to keep news links current. Since people who have the time and inclination to follow news 24/7 are often a bit "eccentric," itís the norm for people such as Matt Drudge to 1) have no qualifications to do anything else that would pay, 2) be politically biased, and 3) have bad, tabloid tastes. Fortunately for Matt Drudge, many people do like biased, tabloid news. While some Drudge-style sites are run by unbiased people with decent qualifications and tastes, these sites are run by one or a few editors.

Other sites have decided that having "elitist" (Matt Drudge?) editors choose the news is a top-down "fascist" organization, and crowdsource or democratize the editorís work by allowing readers to vote on news stories. Digg.com is the most popular crowdsourcing news site and Reddit.com is another.

Crowdsourcing sites such as Digg.com have managed to eliminate the editor and all the problems of having an biased, unqualified, tasteless editor, but unfortunately it appears that crowds are just as biased, unqualified and tasteless as Matt Drudge, if not worse. Democracy or "the wisdom of crowds" works politically, better than all other known political systems, because in elections, in effect, extremists on both the right and left cancel out each otherís votes and donít have enough votes to reach a majority.

But with crowdsourcing sites, self-selected extremists are the only people who take the time to vote on articles that interest them. Who reads and votes for articles on Ron Paul? Who reads and votes on articles on marijuana legalization? Do these people like well-balanced articles that point out the advantages and disadvantages of Ron Paul or marijuana legalization? They are reading and voting for articles on how Ron Paul will save us from the "evil" Federal Reserve and how marijuana legalization will end crime and balance government budgets with marijuana taxes.

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Steve Baba has a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Maryland and developed Shrewd.com as an easy-to-use, fast, minimalist news portal. For more information visit http://www.shrewd.com .

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