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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

One-stop news . . . from a newspaper?

Posted By on 08.12.08 at 02:09 PM

Daywatch, the Tribune's daily news briefing, isn't sticking to news originated by the Tribune. Charlie Meyerson, who compiles Daywatch each morning and e-mails it to about 60,000 subscribers, has taken to sweetening the package with stories that catch his eye no matter where he finds them--and that includes in the Sun-Times. 

"Most of Daywatch's links still will point to the Tribune," Meyerson's boss, innovations editor Bill Adee, explained in a note to the Trib editorial staff in early July, "but we think we can increase its value to the audience by providing one-stop 'News for Chicagoans.'" He went on: "I long have wanted to experiment with aggregating news. That means linking off to other sites. It seems to work well for Google News, yes?" Not to mention, he went on, for Romenesko and Huffington Post.

It's been startling to get Daywatch in recent days and spot links to Neil Steinberg and Mark Brown. But on second thought, why not knock down all the fences?  Internet grazers are accustomed to roaming free. "I myself think it's kind of cool and I read it more than I ever did," says Adee of the new Daywatch. The competition, he realized, isn't the Sun-Times; it's every other Web site a browser might prefer as a primary source of news. "It's a big world out there and we need to get a lot of traffic from other sites," Adee tells me. "It's OK if we do likewise." That's not chivalry--it's common sense.

But if readers think of it as chivalrous, that's OK too. "Some people get it more than others," says Meyerson, who's posting public reaction. "When does the merger get announced?" wondered a reader who'd spotted a link to the Sun-Times's Carol Marin. "If you're going to fill Daywatch with Sun-Times material," someone else said, "I guess I can just read the Sun-Times and disconnect totally from the Trib." But to Meyerson's delight a third reader responded, "I love the fact that you refer to other publications . . . very classy . . . reminds me of 'Miracle on 42nd Street'!"

Wasn't that the show where the ingenue from Allentown wanders into Macy's and tap-dances up a storm?  

So they send her to Gimbel's.

What's to lose by being a sport? "The Sun-Times ain't exactly getting bigger these days," Adee said. "We can do a lot more. We can be a news service, we can provide video, we can provide a roundup of all the best links in Chicago. We're looking at all of them anyway--why wouldn’t we want to share that?"

It's not just the Sun-Times. It's also the Daily Herald, the Wall Street Journal, Beachwood Reporter, the Reader. . . . When I spotted a link to my own column, any reservations I had melted away.

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