Editors still needed

Finally, some good news for journalists.  It turns out they can’t be entirely replaced by computers.   Not for lack of trying, you understand.  But Gabe Rivera, the brains behind the technology news aggregator Techmeme.com, now admits,  “Automated news doesn’t quite work.”

Instead of relying exclusively on algorithms to decide the mix of headlines on the site as it has since its launch in 2005, Techmeme now employs one human editor, Megan McCarthy.  Rivera says the algorithms still do most of the work but he expects McCarthy will have a pronounced impact.

The news will just get faster and more interesting. Obsolete stories will be eliminated sooner while breaking stories will be expedited. Related grouping will improve.

Rivera says the experience of introducing direct editing has been “a revelation.”

Interacting directly with an automated news engine makes it clear that the human+algorithm combo can curate news far more effectively that the individual human or algorithmic parts. It really feels like the age of the news cyborg has arrived. Our goal is to apply this new capability to producing the clearest and most useful tech news overview available.

So what’s McCarthy’s job title?  Not yet determined, but Rivera is leaning toward “news maestro,” because of her role in “conducting the symphony of voices that flow through Techmeme each day.”

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