“Curated” Content

At the recent annual international Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, former broadcast TV network anchor Katie Couric spoke of “original and curated content” and the methods for delivering such to mobile devices.

Couric, as a “USA Today” article (Jan. 8, 2014) reminded readers, was the one who on a 1994 “Today” show episode asked, “What is the Internet?” In fairness, two decades ago, most of us would have asked that question. And few would have been able to answer it.

The “original and curated content” comment was nested within a larger presentation: Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s address to 1,700 assembled digital devotees.

A sidebar: this was, after all, Las Vegas. So Mayer’s presentation included sharing the stage with selected Saturday Night Live performers; the same group that has long (pre-Stewart/Colbert!) brought us fake-ironic-sarcastic-snarky “news” on “Weekend Update.” USA Today reporter Jon Swartz characterized the presentation as “a show straight out of P.T. Barnum.”

As Yahoo’s recently hired “Global Anchor,” Couric is charged with developing news presentation for Yahoo News across multiple platforms, including various mobile devices.

One wonders what novelty is associated with “curated content”. As used, it seems a Newspeak term for what used to be called good, old fashion gatekeeping.

Again, we note Couric is not the first to use such a rhetorical trick.

Once upon a time, there was a noble, if desperately underpaid and, in hindsight, under-appreciated profession genuinely associated with curating content.

So colorful were their lives, Hollywood and Broadway made movies and plays about such people.

Stereotypically associated with hard drinking (a bottle and dirty glass always handy in a desk drawer), cigar chomping, trench coat and fedora-wearing individuals, they were known as reporters and editors.

Editors assigned stories that were investigated by reporters. The reporters selected quotes and relevant background from a range of sources and wrote reports forming a news story and then editors edited the reporting.

Too, some professionals held the title “Fact Checker.” Which had nothing to do with a board game involving monarchy.

Surely, some of this Ancient History has something to do with “curating.”

But, as presently used in the digital world, “curating” seeks to elevate a longstanding behavior to a status undeserved: taking other people’s reporting and acting as a distributor for it.

Much as “Citizen Journalist” does for Rank Amateur.

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