WaPo gets excited about aggregating news, but who’s getting paid?

The Washington Post Co. has reportedly invested between $5 and $10 million in developing Trove, a free personalized aggregation service that will collect news from 10,000 sources online. WaPo’s senior vice president and chief digital officer, Vijay Ravindran, says it “probably won’t save journalism on its own, but it’s a start.” The site launches in beta next month, and apps will also be available for for iOS and Android mobile devices.

Ravindran says that Trove’s main goals are “revenue and innovation,” but he doesn’t discuss where the news is going to come from. Tellingly, the word “writer” appears only once in the article. Instead,  much digital ink is spilled explaining how Trove will use algorithms—like those perfected by NetFlix—to predict what customers news will want to see.

Like the NYT Co., which has been developing a similar app, called News.me, WaPo is investing in personalized aggregation, hoping to turn initially free services into money-makers.  But if all the money is in repackaging these days, how much of that hoped-for revenue will trickle down to the people who create the news? And when readers are being given only what they ask for, what do services like Trove mean for journalists who cover  difficult, less-sensational stories that may not find their way into many users’ customized feeds?

Posted on February 21, 2011 at 4:13 pm by editor · · Tagged with: , , , , , ,

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