RELAX, JOURNALISTS: Content Farms Don't Compete With News--But They Show Where News Fails

milking cow, farming, ap, 2010

Photo: AP

A look at the tags used on “content farms” like Demand Media, Yahoo‘s Associated Content and AOL‘s Seed shows that they don’t really compete with news, but they do show an important failing of online news media. Annie Lowrey and Angela Chou at Slate ran the numbers.The gist? The data show that content farms don’t really try to cover what online news already covers. For example, there are few articles about celebrities because online news outlets are now clever about real time and SEO and so people already get their news from them pretty easily.

So the NYT and other naysayers who believe “content farms” are the death of news can relax: news organisations actually already do a pretty good job of that, and content farms are unlikely to destroy them (us!).

But what do content farms talk about, then? They talk about what we search about–i.e., what we care about. The biggest tags are “money (which appears 6,204 times in the tags), movie, show, school, family, students, business, game, years, and film.” In other words, “we want to know about our kids, our schoolwork, our travel, and our careers. We want to know about jobs, and what industries are growing.”

As ThinkProgress’ Matt Yglesias points out, this actually exposes a failing of news orgs: good advice on personal finance, entertainment, school and life is stuff that people care about, and is also pretty important. The fact that content farms can dominate these important areas tends to show that online news media do a pretty poor job covering these topics that matter a great deal to people’s daily lives.

Related: How Mashable Won →

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