In the face of defeat, America’s news outlets continue to find ways to innovate. Mind you, they aren’t ground-breaking innovations. But they’re innovations none-the-less.
Something happened on 9 August. It started with a small announcement in The Independent (UK) that Briton and former Vanity Fair editor Tina Brown would be bringing her aggregator, The Daily Beast, to the UK.
Startled by this announcement, and certain that since it appeared in a newspaper of (relative) repute, it was legitimate, I took to the pages of Econsultancy to opine.
I’ll say it: I was excited.
The story went up and stayed up for about an hour and a half. Then came the recoil: In-the-know sources emailing Econsultancy to dispute the story. The Independent had gotten the story very, very wrong. And now I had egg on my face.
The story had still managed to get considerable play on the web. Industry sites, taken aback by the announcement, began practically live-blogging the announcement and subsequent updates as new information was learned.
I realised that in the UK there was an interest in having a hometown aggregator. The Daily Beast non-announcement touched a nerve.
But what does this have to do with Slatest? Nothing and everything.
You see, despite its faults, it’s still something. I know America is the land of the aggregator, but it’s also the land of the anti-aggregator. Organisations are being founded around the basis of shutting out aggregators. As that happens, new aggregators are founded.
Gawker founder and Brit Nick Denton said at the Aspen Institute in July that he wouldn’t start one in the UK in a million years. But why? I may be re-using this quote, from a POLITICO article on the event, but it’s perfect:
Conversely, Denton said he’d never set up shop in England. “Every single day, those editors get up and try to kill each other,” said Denton. Not so in the U.S.
There are a lot of reasons why something like this couldn’t work in the UK – and I’m among those who aren’t optimistic - but that doesn’t mean you should throw in the towel.
As a “starter aggregator”, a site like Slatest, which aggregates articles from well-known MSM outlets, would be a good foot forward for the UK. Start aggregating posts from The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Daily Mail and other major titles. See where that gets you.
(Note: Stay away from The Times of London. Uncle Rupert is dead-set on running his media empire into the ground with paywalls.)
The UK is awash with digital entrepreneurs. Thanks to my friend Milo Yiannopoulos, himself an entrepreneur and writer for TechCrunch, I’ve been introduced to a lot of interesting people doing great things with the web. Eventually someone’s going to figure out that even a Gawker Lite is better than nothing at all. Right?