Nieman Foundation at Harvard
HOME
          
LATEST STORY
Newsonomics: The McClatchy auction ends not with a bang, but only more whimpers
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
Dec. 15, 2008, 6:04 p.m.

More Zuckerman on serendipity

Ethan Zuckerman — the gentleman we posted about earlier today — has written a smart piece for the next issue of Nieman Reports on the importance of serendipity in news consumption. As he puts it:

The number of choices an engaged citizen has for reading or watching news has exploded in recent years, and this increase may, paradoxically, mean we encounter less challenging news, and fewer foreign viewpoints, than we used to…

Serendipity is tricky to engineer. It’s difficult to provide information that’s both surprising and relates to a reader’s unstated interests. Librarians engineer serendipity in open stacks by organizing books by topic, allowing eyes to stray from the requested volume to related ones. Retailers hope to increase purchasing by making it easy to stumble upon items you were surprised to remember you “needed” — the beer display at the end of the diaper aisle is an attempt to create a serendipity for the father sent to the store for baby supplies.

For me, the dozens of bloggers I follow in my RSS reader more than fill my daily serendipity quotient — they are a constant source of interesting surprises my local paper just can’t match. That said, I’m fully aware 99.9 percent of the world doesn’t share my media consumption patterns, and for those folks the curated front page has historically been a serendipity machine.

It’s an interesting read. You can download a PDF of his piece here, or look for it in the winter issue of Nieman Reports.

POSTED     Dec. 15, 2008, 6:04 p.m.
SHARE THIS STORY
   
 
Join the 50,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
Newsonomics: The McClatchy auction ends not with a bang, but only more whimpers
The hedge fund Chatham Asset Management reeled in its prize, as expected. But now what does it want to do with it?
Hundreds of hyperpartisan sites are masquerading as local news. This map shows if there’s one near you.
We found that while left-leaning sites prioritize statewide reporting, right-leaning sites are more focused on local reporting, indicating the potential for these sites to exacerbate polarization in local communities.
One group that’s really benefitted from Covid-19: Anti-vaxxers
Plus: How a fake news headline came to be (there are no “Obama-Soros Antifa Supersoldiers”) and trends in Covid-19 misinformation.