Friday, August 9, 2013

Digital News: CNN's 5 Things To Know For Your New Day

In this continuing series, The Omnivore looks at digital news sources you may want to check out. Today we're looking at CNN's "5 Things To Know For Your New Day."

5 Things To Know For Your New Day
CNN's morning cup of news coffee is titled 5 Things To Know For Your New Day--but it actually includes about 50% more "things" than that (after top 5, it has a few 'additional' stories). That's okay: it doesn't overload and pretty much gets them right. 5 Things gets published around 6 AM and it tries to give you the "buzzy" stories you'll want to know about. The writing is nicely terse and informative hitting the who-what-where-how-and-why elements of good reporting.

It mixes in some video and links--but more interestingly: Twitter comments. They'll find a Tweet or two that's relevant, witty, and informative and post that along with the synopsis. Even if you don't know (or don't especially like) Twitter, it's a remarkably good mechanism for producing insight.
I've Gotta Try That
There's a reason I'm doing 5 Things rather than CNN's homepage. The major news outlet's pages are shotgun spread of stories designed to try to have something to appeal to everyone who might come to their page. They are designed to showcase the width and breadth of the company's ability to find and deliver news. 5 Things is none of that. It isn't claiming to be the "most important" stories--or the under-reported stories--or just a list of headlines.

It's a slug of excellent reporting for the top-five topical stories for the given date--and it's compact or 'contained.' That's valuable.

How does 5-Things do as a news-source?

Intelligence: I'm going to go with 3-out-of-5 Stars. The selection is good, sure--and adding in Tweets is a nice touch on the insight-meter but that gets it into this list period. There's no analysis (by design) and their choice of stories is rarely surprising (although the reporting is very solid). The mediocre score here, though, isn't bad: What's attractive about 5-Things is that it's relatively short.

Bias: I don't know how the stories are selected but they are certainly put together by people (who are probably up hideously early--feel sorry for them). That can introduce bias. If this item is still around in 2016 we'll get to see how it reports on news about the candidates. For now I can say that choosing "buzzy" as a criteria makes the stories fairly un-biased (but less politically interesting).

Front Page Material: 4-out-of-5 Stars for 5-Things. It isn't as good as Memeorandum but it's damn good--and although I gave it one-star-less, if you don't have time to check the discussion links on Memeorandum (and, let's face it, you don't) it might be better. Memeorandum is algorithm-driven and deep. 5-Things is human-moderated and concise.

Sometimes in the morning? Concise wins.

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