NewsWhip, a site that collects and reports data on trending media stories, recently published some “people powered front pages.”
That is, they took selected newspaper’s home pages, and re-imagined them, “giving the most shared story the most prominence, the second most shared the second most prominence, etc.”
Here are a few of the covers – original on the left, “people powered” on the right. You can see them all over at NewsWhip.
This is interesting, but what should we take away from this little experiment?
Should publishers work harder to prioritize the most shared stories – a sort of democratic editorial process?
Do publishers have a responsibility to promote the most “important” news over the most “popular”? If so, who should decide what’s important?
Is “sharability” a measure that should determine a story’s prominence? Is a newspaper’s “front page” archaic in an age when you can catch popular stories through your Facebook feed?
I don’t have the answers, but I think these are important questions. News coverage plays an important role in building, shaping, and sustaining public opinion. What stories get shared, what stories capture the public imagination, what stories get prominence – that matters almost as much as the stories themselves.