Beyond the Search Engine: Shape Your Own News FeedA news aggregator keeps you current with news YOU care about or need to know
Recently, we discussed the world beyond Google, in which a variety of easily accessible search engines offers you a choice of different advantages. But now let’s look at something even more focused…
A news aggregator collects news stories and other information, sorted by categories and preferences, from across the internet. News Now is one example.
Let’s say you want to know more about the asteroid Bennu. You could type “Bennu” into a search engine. But you already know the basic stuff about the asteroid; right now you want to know if there has been any recent news about it.
You could go to News Now, choose Science, then Astronomy, then Asteroids, Comets, and Meteoroids, then Asteroid Bennu. You will find that the last story on Bennu that hit the feed was published at Big Think on July 31 of this year, telling us that current evidence shows that NASA has been “completely wrong” about Bennu’s characteristics. Big Think is a respectable site; this may be useful information to know.
If you put the URL path to Bennu — just for example — on your desktop, you can check for further updates later. It’s an easy way to keep current. News aggregators are no more trouble to use than search engines and they can focus topics faster.
At Theme Isle, Chris Fitzgerald offers eight aggregators sites to consider including
- Flipboard: “Flipboard is without a doubt one of the best news aggregator websites because you can follow as many worldwide topics and publications as you want. Or, if you want to narrow down your feed to local news, you can search for your country or city and add it to your topics … Moreover, Flipboard lets you interact with the content. You can like, comment, and share the links to social media. You can read news from your web browser and mobile – available on Android and iOS.” Like Facebook then, except that the news you get is from the pros. (January 18, 2022)
- MetaCritic, for arts and entertainment. Let’s say you wanted to check out Marvel’s Dr. Strange and the Multiverse of Madness (2022) before you spend any money. You can go to the MetaCritic link and type in the film’s name. What you will see is not just trailers and credits but dozens of links to critics’ reviews and hundreds of links to users’ reviews — featuring both summary comments and scores. If you decide to buy, you will know what you are buying.
Fitzgerald also offers tips on building your own aggregator (yes, you can).
In “The 10 Best News Aggregators of 2022” at Livewire, Stefanie Fogel endorses Pocket: “Pocket is a great tool for bookmarking and managing lists of internet articles you want to read later, and it’s also a good place to find stories. All you do is select the Recommended or Explore links to find a variety of trending articles on the Pocket network. Recommendations are partly based on previous articles you saved, so there’s a good chance you’ll find something matching your interests.” (February 12, 2022)
StartupTalky provides a list of 45 or more top news aggregators by name, with information and explanations but doesn’t link to them. It’s still a good place to find out about new aggregators that may prove useful.
Are aggregators a form of theft?
Some news media chiefs don’t like the huge variety of options the reader now has to personally tailor news feeds. From a 2010 research paper:
One explanation for the decline of the traditional media that some, including News Corporation owner Rupert Murdoch and Associated Press Chairman Dean Singleton, have seized upon is the rise of the news aggregator. According to this theory, news aggregators from Google News to The Huffington Post are free-riding, reselling and profiting from the factual information gathered by traditional media organizations at great cost. Murdoch has gone so far as to call Google’s aggregation and display of newspaper headlines and ledes “theft.”Isbell, Kimberley. (2010). The Rise of the News Aggregator: Legal Implications and Best Practices. SSRN Electronic Journal. 10.2139/ssrn.1670339. The paper is open access.
Well, if aggregation is theft, are search engines theft? The internet has dramatically empowered the news seeker relative to the news vendor but it’s hard to see how it could have done otherwise. The radio did the same thing.
At any rate, if you are frequently looking for up-to-date news on the same topics, an aggregator might be a better choice, timewise, than a search engine.
You may also wish to read: Life beyond Google Search: Try the other search engines. Recently, DuckDuckGo was found to be tracking users sometimes, due to a deal with Microsoft. No matter, there are many search engines now… Having several search engines on the desktop minimizes too great dependence on any one and limits how much the search provider can get to know about YOU.