Is Aggregation The Right Destination?

Journalism has undergone many changes in recent years. In a world of online blogging and social media, news stories are becoming more accessible through web-based journalism. With the rise of this practice of journalism, it seems that “much of the web is built around aggregation” in the words of Kimberley Isbell from Nieman Journalism Lab. According to Bill Keller, a former executive editor of ‘The New York Times’, “there’s often a thin line between aggregation and theft.”


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Although articles are often written by ethically considerate companies such as the ‘New York Times’ who post around “250 items per day online” according to Canada’s ‘National post’, the ethics of aggregation is a growing concern with many asking how the practice is “different from stealing, or violating copyright.” With the increased use of aggregation through online platforms, individuals with little qualifications and expertise are able to gather key pieces of information and expand upon topics drawing from their own knowledge to form a personalised aggregated news post. Yet again, the concern of poor ethical consideration arguably undermining the practice of journalism as a paid profession has become a key focus when discussing the evolution of online journalism in recent years.

With a fear of aggregation leading to the theft of information obtained by professionals, as of May this year, “Spanish legislators announced they’re considering a law that would regulate aggregators,” according to Friedman from ‘Columbia Journalism Review’. Currently,there is no law restricting how aggregation is handled, however there are a key set of ethical considerations outlined by many, including those stated by Steve Buttry involving the incorporation of linking back to the source, attributing and adding value.

It seems that if these sort of guidelines highlighted by Buttry and many others were put into a form of law worldwide that is currently being introduced in Spain, the issue of plagiarism within the aggregation of posts would surely be put to rest.


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