Last month Slate announced that it was pulling the plug on Today’s Papers, its popular daily summary of the morning journals, and replacing it with The Slatest, a thrice-daily aggregator of “the 12 most important news stories, blog entries, magazine features, and Web videos of the moment.” Like many diehard Slatees, I was shocked. TP had become the prologue to my mornings. It was a quick, concise read, that made me feel reasonably well informed before starting my day. But I soon chalked up my initial reaction to nostalgia. After all, Slate’s editors were right. The news cycle is no longer daily. And newspapers aren’t the only players driving it. Surely, as an online editor, I should be the last person to cling to such a relic.
But now it’s clear to me that Slate got it all wrong. The lesson of online news is not that readers want their news all the time and from countless sources. It’s that they can afford to be pickier about when and from what medium they get it. Sometimes that may still be from the newspaper at the breakfast table. At other times, it may be via smart phone on the way to the pub. In any case, organizations need to add value to the news by providing either content or context. I don’t need Slate to tell me what the 12 most important news stories are right now. That’s what my RSS feeds and Twitter and Digg and the myriad other aggregators that have emerged in the 14 years since Slate introduced TP are for. Continue reading