The FT Antenna launched last week as an experiment in social media content aggregation from the Financial Times. The site opened in beta to pull together information from Twitter which may be of interest to FT readers.
"The fire hose of stories that are published on the web every day is difficult to keep up with", Lisa Pollack, head of new projects at FT.com, told Journalism.co.uk.
"Even if you check a variety of sites as well as your Twitter feed, there still can be a lingering feeling of having missed out on something."
She said Antenna is a point of reference on the most discussed topics on social platforms for FT readers who may be "shy about using social media or who don’t have the time for it".If we’re going to provide useful services to FT readers, we shouldn’t be too precious about exclusively pointing them to FT.comLisa Pollack, FT.com
"Antenna is, to some extent, just a logical repackaging of what we already do. One of our most popular emails is Alphaville’s 6am Cut. It contains links to both FT and non-FT stories."
The content featured on the website is picked by an algorithm with lists and fixed parameters determined by the FT's editorial team. Everything else is automatic, and Antenna's content selection is chosen from a "double whitelist".
For a tweet to be published on the site, the message has to come from an approved Twitter account, and the article it links to must originate from an approved website on a separate selected list.
Twitter users on the list include academics, bloggers, journalists, and people in the financial industry, and Pollack said they usually tweet a variety of news consistently.
Screenshot from FT Antenna
"Journalists are somewhat overrepresented because they are especially good at tweeting interesting stories promptly.
"At the moment, the main scoring mechanism is provided by the number of retweets, but there’s some scaling so that the Twitter accounts with relatively few followers aren’t penalised.
"If anything, because of how Antenna currently works, the lesser followed accounts are at an advantage."
But how does the Antenna, which is free at the moment, fit in with the paywall on FT.com? Pollack said content aggregation is "a wide open game", and the site links to a mix of stories from various media outlets, some of which will be behind a paywall.
She said Antenna was built with the aim to get useful content in front of current and future FT readers.
"The Twitter accounts are ones we imagine an FT reader would follow", she said, "and the sites are ones that we can picture an FT reader would also be interested in."
"If we’re going to provide useful services to FT readers, we shouldn’t be too precious about exclusively pointing them to FT.com."