Social Networks are increasingly playing a role in the journalism field. In the Spanish market, the latest innovation in this direction is Niagarank . The platform involves Twitter and can be seen as an aggregator of the most important tweets in the moment: it reveals what everybody is commenting about and highlights the hot topics of the day in Spain.
How do they do it? Niagarank follows several thousand Twitter users and rank them, also ranking the subjects they usually tweet. Through an algorithm, it publishes the most interesting material that is circulating in the social network. “We do robot mass-curation for news aggregation”, defines Luistxo Fernandez, who helped to develop the platform. He has visited the Master in Digital Journalism Program last week and presented the project that has just been launched by CodeSyntax ,a small web development company, based in the Basque Country.
In your opinion, what is the role of social media in communication field?
LF: All social media play a central role in the realm of communication. Well, Internet itself is pure communication, best invention we could imagine for that human need… Then, introducing one’s social entourage as an enhancer of the communication experience adds nuances to that experience. On one side, you can create your own communication channel selecting your sources (friends or otherwise), but on the other, closed circles can also be created. Your entourage has a certain color or taste, and what you consume, at the end, may end being monocolor…
In Niagarank, Twitter assumes a role in journalism area: people enter in the platform and see the most commented (by consequence, important) subjects of the day. It can be considered as “audience natural edition”. In your opinion, is it a trend that social media also assumes a role in the journalism field?
LF: Social media is a prime informative source for many of us. We get to know relevant news and information through those channels rather than by mainstream media. But at the same time, the amount of noise and irrelevant chatter may be overwhelming. Although Trending Topics in Twitter might be informative, many times they are just a miscelaneous chaos. In Niagarank, on the other hand, we try to refine information, not in terms of Topics, but real news or informative links, and we add up the most relevant tweets to those items, not just the most retweeted, but also the ones that are relevant to that community. And I say community, because we have created distinct channels in Niagarank, and in each one of these channels, we follow a different set of users.
What is special about Twitter?
LF: It is obviously the social networking with biggest connection to the concept of news and information. Therefore, it is the closest to what might be considered media.
On what markets do you see opportunities for Niagarank? Why?
LF: We are trying to build Niagarank.es as a destination newssite in Spain. That is a b2c perspective, trying to reach the audience in general, people that is thirsty for news in this or that subject. But, we also believe in a b2b setting, in which the content-discovery functionality of Niagarank can be put to the service of organizations or businesses which need to develop a content-rich experience for their web or social media strategies. In order to fulfill that objective, they might purchase content, hire content creators… or use the automated machinery of Niagarank, a cost-effective solution.