April 25, 2017

Ever heard of Google Blogsearch, Blogrunner or TechFuga? No? You’re probably not alone.

Each service tried and failed to dethrone Techmeme as the place where Silicon Valley die-hards get their up-to-the-minute dose of headlines about the tech industry. Techmeme has hung around for more than a decade in various incarnations and still boasts an influential readership that includes Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Google CEO Sundar Pichai.

Now, another company is entering the colosseum to challenge Techmeme with a new spin on tech news aggregation.

Jessica Lessin, the founder and CEO of The Information, announced at the company’s subscriber summit earlier today the launch of Briefing, a tech news aggregator for the company’s thousands of subscribers.

Briefing, which exists on a paywalled section of The Information’s site, will consist of a short list of the day’s most important headlines in tech news along with analysis from The Information’s reporters. The goal, Lessin said, is to add context and value to tech stories du jour that The Information doesn’t break so that subscribers don’t have to visit other websites to find what they need to know.

Briefing, from The Information. (Screenshot, The Information)

Briefing, from The Information. (Screenshot, The Information)

The Information is launching the service now, Lessin said, because the aggregation space “has gotten a little stale.”

“There are a lot of sites that link to news throughout the day, but it’s often a bunch of confusing links,” Lessin said. “And without that context and commentary, I think those sites aren’t as valuable as they could be.”

The Information, which charges users based on subscription tiers that start at $399 per year, will limit Briefing’s list of headlines to “the stories that our subscribers need to know” and will eschew more exhaustive lists on sites like Techmeme, Lessin said. They will also serve up Briefing in an email newsletter to subscribers once per day.

“I think there’s a lot of opportunity to compete with Techmeme and other sites like it precisely because they’re so focused on just providing links,” Lessin said. “The other thing that I think many aggregators get wrong is, because they’re still ultimately reliant on traffic and pageviews, they focus on quantity over quality.”

Briefing and Techmeme are ultimately different variations of the same kind of product, so don’t expect one to supplant the other anytime soon. But Lessin says the product can answer question that a straightforward list of headlines can’t.

“What did the article miss?” Lessin asked. “What did it get right? What are the questions that still need to get answered?”

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Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of Poynter.org. He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism…
Benjamin Mullin

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