This Is Not What We Meant By Curation

One of the content strategy topics I get asked most about is content curation. You can Google the term for an in-depth break down of the various tactics and benefits of curating content but what you’ll find is…a lot of the same thing. Sure, there will be some slight differences but as far as the substance of the matter goes it’s all the same.

I can't tell if the irony of this image is intentional.

I can’t tell if the irony of this image is intentional.

What I am finding more and more is the simple repeating of information under the guise of “curation.” It’s all the more disturbing to see this trend among “news” organizations, whose job it is to create valuable content. But more and more you see the same stories repeated over and over and over again. Take the recent example of a drunken first class passenger thrown out of her first class seat to Shanghai and instead deposited in Alaska.

Poor Stephanie Heizmann Auerbach’s name has been plastered all over the Internet and has, at least for this week, become synonymous with entitled misbehavior. It’s not that she doesn’t deserve the negative attention (assuming the story of her loutish behavior is true—and who knows?), it’s that every single entry of the approximately 78,000 results from Googling her name basically say the same thing. And I do mean the same thing: the same details, the same storyline, the same commentary…it’s all the same. They might rearrange the words here and there and swap out snarky adjectives to demean her but the substance of all of these stories is the same. It’s clear that they’re all drawing from the same source material, or at least were in the beginning. Now it’s seems we have people copying copied version of a story that likely came from a wire service.

And what value does that provide?

It’s a hot story, so I get the inclination to report your version of it. People, like me, are Googling her name so you want to capture some of that action! That’s the value to the publisher—skimming a few hundred of the tens of thousands who are Googling this drunken buffoon. But the value to the reader? Not much.

The value of curation is to provide context, to provide meaning through the gathering of individual assets. Curating content is not simply copying what everyone else is doing and posting the same version of the same tired story. That does not add value. Professional publishers know better…or they should.

And we wonder why modern journalism is in such a state…

Image source: Content Curation: Why Is The Content Curator The Key Emerging Online Editorial Role Of The Future?

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