Today I'm checking out the new news aggregator, Newser. Wow, that's a mouthful.
When I first loaded the site up, I really liked what I saw. It has a very slick design, and the news is presented really well. The concept for content selection is pretty good too.
Newser's editors hand-pick the top stories of the moment and write their own summaries of them, also pulling in images relevant to the story. This style of presenting news is going back a little bit to Slashdot's style and moving away from the more hands-off approach of Digg and Techmeme. For me, however, Newser has some fundamental flaws that I just cannot get over.
The first and most serious flaw of Newser is that there is no blog presence whatsoever. The Newser page of top 100 sources shows the 100 sites that Newser's editors most often cite. Clocking in at No. 1 (at the time of writing) is the Associated Press, with 340 stories since March. On the other hand, there is not one single story from any of the top blogs, including sites like Engadget and TechCrunch.
Now, don't get me wrong, I have absolutely no problem with having AP content on Newser. The AP is a very important and influential news organization, and it should definitely have a portion of the content, but if you are going to do an Internet news site, you have to embrace new media, at least to some extent. Having 340 stories from the AP and 0 from Engadget is just absolutely ridiculous.
The other thing that seems pretty curious about the site's concept is that on its About page, it states that "Newser seeks to offer information free of bias." As Josh Catone at Read/Write Web says, "when you add a human element, you unavoidably add a bias as well." I absolutely agree. It's impossible to be unbiased when there is such a large human element involved in the selection process.
I think that Newser could have something good going for it. I like the idea of having news sites with hand-picked content to balance out the automatically generated sites. The editors just really need to expand the spectrum of the content that their editors are picking from and maybe throw in a few social features, such as comments, just for good measure.