Wednesday, June 2, 2010

My view on...News

Being an avid reader of news myself who want to optimize my reading experience in terms of quality and quantity, I can’t help but to be very selective in choosing what articles I would like to read in my limited and precious free time. To be honest, I stopped buying newspaper since I learnt that news is available in internet more than a decade ago. Why would I spend money on killing more trees while there are more than half on a daily newspaper that I simply would not read? There are just tremendous amount of advantages of getting news via the net than on traditional newspaper that there is no contest between the two and it is no surprise to me that traditional newspapers are dying all over the globe.

However, how to pick what I want to read in the ‘ocean’ of news sites in the web? I don’t know how others are doing, but I do have my own way to navigate the ocean on daily basis to satisfy my urge of knowing what’s going on in the world. On average, I spend about an hour or more everyday on reading articles in the net. Certainly, I do still watch some cable news during dinner every night for being a passive receiver of broadcast news. Well, these days, I would consider watch evening news is just a supplementary way of receiving news that I wouldn’t feel bad for skipping it in occasions. So, what’s my ‘way’ of getting news on the web then?

First of all, there are usually five types of sites that I got my current event news from. Two of them are what I get the ‘relatively objective’ news; the other three are where I got the ‘opinions’ on news stories. Cuz I’m not always satisfied with some so-called objective news reporters, I do like to see what people think and how they react on those stories. That’s why I seek to read articles on both to give me more 3-D perspective of events.

The first type is the news sites. I go to To me, this is the master site of all. It is because I can get categorized stories by thousands in each. I can drill down in each category and by story if I want more. I think this site is in line with the original spirit of the internet, namely sharing of free information. Unless majority of individual sites are charging readers for access the details of their contents, typical reader like me will simply opt out of your site and move to other free sites to read the same story. I also use search function in the a lot, cuz I like find out news of certain topic. In addition, I would go to the country specific page to see local news or use the search function to see some local perspective of some news being reported in the U.S. centric site. For example, I would go to Chinese and Korean news sites to see their reporting on Kim Jung Ii’s secret visit to China, rather than simply reading BBC or ABC for that. Besides Google news, I don’t go to other general sites of particular news organizations. Cuz, MSNBC wouldn’t link to CNN for reporting of the same story, so I just go to Google as a starting point for all.

However, as I mentioned above, I do go to second type of sites for news as well. Those sites are category specific sites. For example, I like reading movie news, NBA news, financial news,etc. Then, I will go to aint-it-cool-news,,, or, for those news. In my opinion, Google news may be too big an ocean for specific type of news. Those sites on the other hand are more specific on their respective topic and with some quality analysts who can provide some insider reporting and opinions that I would be interested in.

The three other types of sites that I got analysis/opinions on news stories are analysis collection sites, blogs, and forums. Analysis collection sites such are Globalresearch, Counterpunch offer a collection of insightful in depth analysis of news events that it is just a pleasure to me to check them daily on geopolitics news stories. However, blogs and news forums does offer a more ‘balance’ and ‘quantified’ view of certain news which would be a good way for me to gauge the opinion of people rather than just individual specialists. I would not put much thought on the individual opinion of those bloggers or members of forums who may only voice out words like ‘XXX sucks!’. However, such opinion does give me a sense of what the general genuine opinion of the public is. Well, I know that there are still a lot of people who have opinion but not voice them out on the net or anywhere. Well, to me there are the ‘silence’ crowds that I just can’t help but ignore them.

What got me blogging this topic is after reading the latest interview of Steve Jobs which will be the topic of my next blog (first time ever that I would foretell what I’m gonna blog about next). One thing that he mentioned in D8 this year is that he doesn’t want professional journalism to die and left with only a world of bloggers. He believed that people will pay for access of news stories. Technology distribution is not the issue, but the marketing/pricing strategy is. Well, though I enjoy ‘free’ access of news for so long and kinda spoiled by that. It would be very difficult to convince me to open my wallet to pay for news. But would that still be possible? I wouldn’t rule out such possibility. I think Wall Street Journal is a really good example. It charges you to read their stories after giving you 5 free stories per day. I can see that if I really want to read their high-quality stories/analysis that I would pay to access them. However, it is gonna be a matter of give and take and convenience. If you want to charge me to read your news, first of all, you better be very good and exclusive, have to be much better than the free stuff. Also, if timing is critical, I can see that people would pay for time-critical data, like stock prices, but that won’t apply to breaking news. Cuz, as breaking news event is unfolding, there is just not too much to be reported as things may still need to be confirmed, also analysis wouldn’t be started without more info. So, it wouldn’t be worth paying for half-baked stories then, I guess. Going back to the give and take and convenience, the payment method has to be easy. I think there must be choices for charges available to readers, i.e. flat fee and micro-payment. Cuz, that would fit different reading habits. Somewhat like the consumption of music, you can either buy songs individually, or pay subscription fee for monthly limitless access. With the surge of tablet readers and the maturity of internet virtual payment system, I can see that paying for news is a viable in coming future.

Anyway, since the launch of iPad, the future of newspaper, magazines, or journalism in general has become a hot topic again. I think things will be ok at the end of the day, cuz, though the spirit of free market is always crude to some market players, it will no doubt makes the best choice eventually. Darwinism goes!


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