Do journalists need — or want — Publish2?

I had a feeling that my friend Scott Karp over at Publishing 2.0 was up to something, and now I see the fruits of his secret labours — or rather, I’ve read his description of what he’s been up to over at the Publish2 blog. The final pieces of the puzzle likely won’t come into focus until the site launches in beta, which Scott says is coming next month.

Like Tony Hung at Deep Jive Interests, I’m a little fuzzy on what Publish2 is going to be exactly, or how it’s going to work — but I will say that Scott is a smart guy (with some smart backers such as Robert Young, Howard Weaver and Jeff Jarvis), and I am very interested in seeing what he comes up with.

It seems obvious from Scott’s preamble that Publish2 is based in part on a Digg-style model, in which journalists (and he appears to be defining that term broadly, as he should) submit and then vote for news stories. Publish2 will also apparently incorporate some of the social bookmarking features of sites like del.icio.us, and stored bookmarks may also feed into the service.

How the participants in the site will be chosen is a little unclear. It sounds as though it will begin with a selected number of journalists, and then spread out from there to journalists who are not part of a mainstream entity, and to what Scott refers to as “news bloggers.”

This reminds me of the model that Citizendium.com has been trying to use to fix what it sees as the flaws in Wikipedia, by using some form of “expert” sources. And it seems clear that Scott wants to use journalists as the core of his news aggregation engine in order to address some of the flaws of the Digg model.

Jason Calacanis tried to do something similar when he revamped Netscape.com, by using editors who select and highlight — and in some cases even report on — stories and content. And in Publish2 there also seem to be aspects of what Newsvine.com and Daylife.com (which Jeff Jarvis is also involved in) are doing, as well as Topix.com. Whether Publish2 can make it work better than any of these remains to be seen.

One of the first things I thought when I read Scott’s description was: “This sounds like exactly what newspapers should already be doing.” And part of what he implies in his post is that not enough journalists, and not enough publications, are really making use of social networking tools to improve the news generation or aggregation process. I would definitely agree with that.

Can Publish2 help to change that? I’m looking forward to finding out.

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About mathewi

I'm the chief digital writer at the Columbia Journalism Review in New York, and a former writer for Fortune magazine and the Globe and Mail newspaper.