Winer writes, vis a vis Google News, that “4000 pubs all reporting the same story is 4000 times more boring than one.”
You could make the same claim about weblogs, but we’ll let that ride for now.
What’s interesting to me about Google is that it can uncover new things — new publishers as well as new topics I might not have found in my usual circuit of RSS feeds and weblogs. For instance, this story from Environment News Service about how 1 in 3 primates are threatened with extinction.
I think the two news sources are complementary, not competitive. I have my favorite feeds — some give me news in topics I’m interested in, and some of them I read regularly just because they regularly surprise me with new stuff. But you have to know about these channels first, or find them through other weblogs. And by reading the same feeds all the time (which often are reading the same feeds you are), you run the risk of breathing your own air too much. That’s not healthy.
News outlets, via Google news, give me news about stuff I didn’t even think about until I saw it on their front page. That’s an important function, because it keeps enlarging my world.
My wish list: Google could aggregate weblogs by topic, the way they’re doing with news stories now. Then they could complete the loop by adding the option to view Google News categories as RSS feeds.
That way, you could have a way of discovering new stories — and new sources of information — from within your news aggregator. If you like the sources enough, add them to the list of channels you watch.