The profound impact of the Internet on journalism was summarised well by Donald Mohoney in his recent post on the ‘Some Blind Alleys‘ blog. In it, he cites an article, published by The Huffington Post relating to the starting time of Super Bowl XLV. Knowing the search term most likely to be Googled in the period leading up to the event, The ‘Huff titled the article with the exact term: "What Time Does The Super Bowl Start?" At first glance, this might not seem odd for an article title, but as a news article its application seems inconcruous. Why? It contains no information. It was written simply as a means to secure maximum traffic to the associated article. Mohoney goes on to explain that the article to which the title related, was also compiled in a form calculated to maximise its exposure to Google. As a consequence, the article suffers from an inherent lack of warmth - a kind of antiseptic disconnection from the human readers it aims to attract. Thankfully, as Mohoney reports, the introduction of Google's Panda update decelerated the slide toward engineered content, churned out simply as search engine fodder.
But it's the need for Panda and the subsequent radical effect of its deployment, that highlights the power the Internet, or more accurately the power Google has on determining how an entire industry goes about its business. If people don't know your content exists, how is it going to realise its value? For news journalism, how is it going to be monetized? Ah, but therein lies another story and I feel, another blog post. I can see it now: How Do I Make Money From My Bland, Search-Engine Friendly Article?
Dominic Duffy, Ceros