April 20, 2007

What's news?

Apparently News Corp is seriously thinking about turning MySpace into a Digg-esque news aggregator and headline popularity contest:

Two thoughts occur to me in relation to this.
1. Genius. That's like asking Big Brother voters to rate the works of Virginia Wolf.
2. Madness. What are News thinking? Who goes to MySpace for news?

With any luck, this will turn out to be one of those doomed one-site-for-your-life ideas that explodes on the launch pad. But the interesting thing is what it says about news.

By rights, the MySpace audience should be *anti*-news. Every bit of received wisdom and poorly interpreted research says that the MySpace profile should run from newspapers and green-Pental-pen wielding serious TV journalism. The explanations vary a bit (too boring, too serious, don't care, really don't care) but the general conclusion is the same: MySpacers mostly aren't experiencing a problem with trying to juggle the Fin Review site and the most recent YouTube school bullying videos.

Which can only lead me to conclude that some visionary, albeit slightly mad, social researcher has the reigns at News and is trying to see what sort news MySpace folks would actually read. In other words, it's a big, cheap focus group for the perceived future market of the News Corp news titles.

Chuck Palahniuk writes about his instinctive horror at the way in which we are all now encouraged to re-package our lives' events as stories, even as they're happening to us. Perhaps News are just making a little more explicit the same process for events that are further removed from us: tell us how you want to process the world's events, so we can package it that way for you.

posted on April 20, 2007 at 01:36 PM by darren.