March 12, 2007

MySpace is the talk of the Web again, this time for
speculation that it’s stepping into the news biz.

Although MySpace reps haven’t commented, the New York Post
and MediaPost ran stories Monday saying the social networking site will soon launch
its own news service.

The service would be a news aggregator, similar to Digg, where
MySpace users can rate and comment on articles, and post them to their personal

I’m already wondering how this would affect sites like Digg
and Reddit, as well as news organizations’ sites. “It doesn’t take a genius to
figure out that this is not good news for those of us in the news business,
unless we view it as another way to get our content onto yet another platform,”
said blogger Terry Heaton, who broke the news last week citing “inside sources.”

MySpace has the audience in place — more than 100
million accounts, says the Post (which has the same owner as MySpace — News
). Now I’m wondering how that audience would use the service — especially
with the option for posting articles to personal pages.

What kind of news would the largely young audience post?
Would the service, as Heaton predicts, help us understand what kind of news
they’re interested in? Would it help engage young people in the news?

The Post‘s article says MySpace (obviously) aims to keep users on the
site for news instead of going elsewhere. That also begs the question — would
the service divert traffic away from news organizations’ sites or increase it?
How are aggregators out there now, like Google News, affecting news sites’ page

It seems we could learn a lot from users’ interactions with
the news service — not just for getting a better picture of news consumption
habits, but for generating story ideas as well.

What would people in your coverage area post? How might that
influence your coverage? And if they could author their own work, as Heaton
reports, what would they write about?

Howard Finberg, Poynter’s director of interactive learning, took a stab at answering what this combination of social networking and news might mean. But I guess we’ll have to wait to
find out for sure — until “early 2nd quarter,” according to Heaton’s blog.
Until then, tell me what you think.

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Leann is a former copy editor at The Dallas Morning News who now works as a writing consultant at Collin College in Plano, Texas. She…
Leann Frola Wendell

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