News came last week that MySpace is getting into the online news aggregation game. According to leaked marketing materials, MySpace News will make news social, allowing users to rate and comment on news items that comes through the system, as well as submit stories and even author pieces from their MySpace blog.
News came last week (via Terry Heaton) that MySpace is getting into the online news aggregation game. MySpace is of course owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, and Murdoch is a media mogul of the old school. After inheriting his first newspaper in 1952 he has built a multinational empire that today controls major parts of the world’s traditional media, including Fox News and News International (inc. UK newspapers, The Sun and The Times). This is a guy that clearly understands the value of 'news'.
However, with the advent of the Internet, the top-down and centralized model of media consumption on which Murdoch’s empire has been built, is under threat, as a new generation (referred to by Murdoch as ‘digital natives’) wants to produce, share and consume media on their own terms:
"They don’t want to rely on a god-like figure from above to tell them what’s important… they certainly don’t want news presented as gospel. Instead, they want their news on demand, when it works for them. They want control over their media, instead of being controlled by it." Rupert Murdoch, March 13th 2006
Enter MySpace and a number of other internet properties including IGN, and it's clear that Murdoch is keen to ensure that his legacy extends to the brave new media world.
So what do we know about 'MySpace News'?
According to sales materials that Heaton claims to be privy to:
MySpace News takes news to a whole new level by dynamically aggregating real-time news and blogs from top sites around the Web
Creates focused, topical news pages that users can interact and engage with throughout their day
MySpace is making the news social, allowing users to: Rate and comment on every news item that comes through the system Submit stories they think are cool and even author pieces from their MySpace blog
And finally we have the clincher...
MySpace users previously had to leave the site to find comprehensive news, gossip, sporting news, etc. With MySpace News, we bring the news to them!
It's all about keeping MySpace users within MySpace. Which of course makes sense from Murdoch's point of view but also is more evidence of the closed nature of the social networking site. As the aggressive launch of MySpace video shows, MySpace wants to have it all, by providing no excuse for users to leave the site, and to guard against other content providers -- such as YouTube -- from encouraging MySpace users to navigate elsewhere.
All of which begs a number of questions:
What news sources will MySpace News aggregate?
Will News Corp. give priority to its own content?
Or will MySpace strike deals in such a way that its users can interact with third-party sources, without having to leave the site?
Either way, Murdoch is right in his view that the 'MySpace generation' of digital natives wants to consume and produce media on their own terms. But if he's succesful it will still be the god-like figure from above who will be the one to profit.