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Dec. 15, 2008, 10:45 a.m.

Ethan Zuckerman, on balancing the protein and Kit Kats in your news

In Friday’s Christian Science Monitor, Vijaysree Venkatraman talks with Harvard’s Ethan Zuckerman about homophily — the tendency for people to want to associate with people like themselves. Online, this can mean someone interested in the Red Sox will spend a lot of time hanging out on Red Sox forums, writing comments on Boston Globe Red Sox stories, thinking Red Sox thoughts — but be blissfully ignorant of, say, water quality issues in Boston Harbor.

(One of the traditionalist pro-newspaper arguments you hear these days is that the newspaper broke through this homophily problem by presenting all sorts of news about different things in one convenient package, delivered to your front porch each morning. I think that tends to overestimate how much time those hypothetical monomaniacal Red Sox fans really spent reading the metro section, but that’s another argument.)

Seeing that CSM article reminds me to post this video shot by our Edward J. Delaney some time ago. It’s a couple minutes of a conversation he had with Ethan on his ideas about “nutritional labeling” for news. Ethan’s doing his part to increase the protein (a.k.a. international news) in your diet through his terrific Global Voices project.

If there are any true nerds in the audience, the world is waiting for a Firefox plugin to do what Ethan’s talking about here on a browser-by-browser basis. (You could use Calais for the metadata creation.)

Joshua Benton is the senior writer and former director of Nieman Lab. You can reach him via email (joshua_benton@harvard.edu) or Twitter DM (@jbenton).
POSTED     Dec. 15, 2008, 10:45 a.m.
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