I touched on this topic briefly yesterday, but I'm going to expand a little bit, after my conversation with Grantz and further thought. I think it's fair to say that if news were being purely consumed via a Google news or Factiva like agglomeration, then stories would be significantly different than they are written for print publications.
I envision a journalist writing towards a goal. They think that in hard news cases, there are a certain set of facts that should be revealed, in a particular order, connoting a particular mood. Now, this sort of approach is suspect and people have long talked about this by saying journalists are biased, the Times is leftist, the Post is conservative, etc. But what alternative is there? If you are providing the sole news to a community, or are even one of a couple newspapers, then your news presentation needs to give readers the impression they got the gist of what was actually going on.
Not so anymore. Even if this approach wasn't a mistake before, due to circumstance, it must be for publications that derive a significant chunk of their readership from the Internet. When I read Google news, I read a dozen stories about a particular topic. And then I get a sense of what's going on by comparing what's the same and different about the articles, and considering the bias of each.
News organizations do me a disservice by trying to hide their slant. I want it accentuated, admitted, and embraced. Because in a world where I have a dozen stories to compare, I don't want what is the same in each accentuated by so-called journalistic ethics, I want what is different highlighted. I want the full force of each reporter's thoughts, and I want a common ground to distill that information without having to filter it. When I have a dozen stories, measuring and gathering information is much easier if each source is providing their opinion, and their research, and not reiterating what has been accepted as true by the rest of the media community. More on this tomorrow.
Grantz talked about this in terms of localization, how he wishes a service like Google news would concentrate on articles from publications that were near a story. But give me a break. I could care less about rinky-dink under-funded community papers that sell their stories to the highest bidder.