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What's in the Secret Sauce

By Kyle Luke | December 1, 2010

The debate over what is better for delivering relevant content in today's news ecosystem - original reporting or aggregation - has been grabbing headlines lately. Henry Blodget of Business Insider recently wrote about a blow-up that occurred at a fast-growing local news website, TBD. The company's general manager, Jim Brady, stepped down after a dispute with the owner, Robert Albritton, about which was more important to the growth of the site. Brady believed aggregation was essential to TBD's editorial strategy while Albritton of TBD wanted more original reporting. Blodget writes that the distinction between the two has grown irrelevant because of the evolving landscape of news reporting: "The online medium has turned aggregation into a form of content - and a very valuable one at that.  The most successful online media companies, such as Huffington Post and Gawker Media, incorporate both original content AND aggregation." Gone are the days when using content from other sites translate into stealing from other news organizations - in fact it's the formula that makes some of the biggest online sites so popular. People are attracted to attainable and quality content. Combining original reporting with aggregation provides the best that is on the Internet - along with a site's own perspective on the issue. In other words, by combing through the quantity, you can deliver the best quality. In a Fast Company article, Magnify founder Steve Rosenbaum compares museum curators to Internet ones. Museum curators use knowledge from numerous sources to paint a better and more informed picture of history. The same can be applied to the digital world as well. "As the digital landscape becomes increasingly complex, the techniques and principles of museum curatorship can inform how we create online experiences - particularly when we approach content." For those who provide information online, it will become increasingly important that a website has both a personality (a la Drudge and Gawker) and a content plan that is engaging and relevant. Curation is key to achieve both those goals.