One thing I really miss about getting my news aggragated to me is what I call the “check it out” factor. This is something newspapers still have the monopoly on, and something that made newspaper reading so enjoyable.
You know the factor. You’re reading what you want to read, turn the page, and suddenly a headline catches your eye. You read it, and lo and behold, you’ve become enlightened to something new. I call it the “check it out” factor because you then have a tendency to later tell a friend or co-worker “check out that story in the Herald today.” If he enjoys it, he tells a friend to “check it out.” And so on. It’s like a primitive version of viral marketing.
I occasionally have a “check it out” moment while using search engines, where a headline link will catch my eye and I’ll say “I’ll get back to that search after I check this out.” But the information that comes through my RSS feeds give me exactly what I ask for, and nothing more.
This might be a great opportunity for news sites. What if every story page on a news web site had a “check it out” section. Something with links to unusual news or factoids, which eye-catching headlines for each. In addition to piquing reader interest, it’ll also provide a portal to bring the reader deeper into the site and maybe linger there a bit longer. And advertisers would love that.
In time, this may be a way to solve the problem of getting news that readers “have a right to know” into the news that readers “want to know.”