Popular social news site Reddit, while formerly struggling to make a profit, has continued to expand its number of employees, suggesting financial success. Reddit also experienced a large influx of new members after the infamously unsuccessful new version of Digg launched. One feature that primarily differentiates Reddit from Digg are “subreddits,” submission categories that anyone can set up about anything. There are already communities for world news stories, marijuana growing, regional news and glamourous shots of food, among many others. And if someone cannot find a subreddit for something they are interested in, they can make one in minutes.
From there, of course, users can select to have content only from subreddits they are interested in reach their “front page,” where popular stories from a user’s selected subreddits are aggregated. This diverges wildly from the typical gatekeeper system where an editor gets to decide what news a consumer does and does not receive. If a user wants to keep up on all of the latest Wikileaks developments, there is a subreddit for that. Or they can choose not to hear about them at all. This is a la carte news. But is it such a bad thing?
An editor might argue that while a consumer may not be interested in a story, it is still important and they should know about it. From a consumer standpoint, however, cutting out news they don’t care about and including news they are interested in that might have been cut at the expense of one of those editor deemed “important” stories may not be more overall informative, but it is vastly more relevant. The growing popularity of Reddit and other social news sites demonstrates that this is a popular approach amongst consumers, but it remains too early to fully determine if the ability to have a narrow news focus will prove truly detrimental to news consumers.