The announcement that Myspace is about to launch a news service where users decide the running order will strike terror in to Old Media editors like myself. I bang on to anyone who will listen about how journalism must change to make the most of new technologies. But this is a real test of my reformist resolve. The idea is that
MySpace (owned by R. Murdoch) will provide a news aggregator service, so the items included will be determined by the choices made by users. This is different to Google news, for example, which selects stories from different sources and puts them on its front page. There will still be some editorial influence on the Myspace site, but the audience will be much more in the driving seat. It’s being done for commercial reasons. The news audiences will be divided up in to subject areas such as ‘parenting’ which will allow advertisers to target them in an efficient way that isn’t always possible online. I suppose that raises further questions about how influential the advertisers will become in story selection because someone still has to put the video or text news online in the first place for the audience to decide which is most important.
It’s going to be a complex process and no doubt, the results will be unexpected. Meanwhile, I suspect that more traditional online news sites will still thrive because audiences want editors to save them the time and effort of story selection. And increasingly people get their daily agenda through RSS feeds anyway. So it is a revolution, but don’t expect all the walls to come tumbling down…�