Reddit, the social news platform where users submit content and vote it up or down, has been used by journalists since its launch in 2005. Last week it gained particular attention from Nieman Journalism Lab, Time and other outlets in the way details of the Aurora, Colorado cinema shooting were surfaced on the platform.
Time's Keith Wagstaff wrote that "no news organisation or social media site currently offers an experience that’s concurrently as immediate, engaging and thorough as the one offered by Reddit".
Freelance journalist and digital producer for the Guardian and New York Times Benji Lanyado is a fan of Reddit and has noticed its influence not just for hard news but as a source for inspiration for features.
"The whole reason I made [the Reddit Edit] is that I've gradually become more and more obsessed with Reddit," he told Journalism.co.uk.
"Reddit is often seen as an infantile domain where people put up stories of cats but it is actually a feature generator."
He said he regularly spots stories in feature sections of newspapers and magazines and realises he has seen the topic the previous week on Reddit.
Lanyado said Reddit content is generated by an engaged crowd that provides "quirky" story ideas and it is "certainly quicker than a lot of other news generating sources" in surfacing conversations taking place online.
But Lanyado also finds Reddit cluttered and wanted to create a well-designed, simplified version. "A real bugbear is that Reddit is an incredible resource but it is not amazingly focused, it's messy, although there are plenty of reasons why it is designed as it is as it tries to get as much content as possible onto one page."
The Reddit Edit website "uses the power of Reddit to skim off the top stories", Lanyado said, pulling in the three most popular links from six different subreddits (categories within Reddit) using the Reddit API.
He has chosen to offer just a few subreddits and has chosen "mainstream interests", such as politics and technology to provide an "often sideways glance at the news agenda that is slightly anarchic with its choice of news".
Lanyado is also one of the people behind Top5News (reported on Journalism.co.uk here) and both projects are an "attempt to be an antidote to the fact that there is too much information on the web", which is a challenge for journalists as they are tasked with sorting through the noise and chaos for the important content.
The Reddit Edit and Top5News harness the power of the crowd and are both "attempts to show this is what people are reading" and not an editor's choice of content.
Although Lanyado launched The Reddit Edit last week it was not initially his intention. The Reddit Edit had been his final project for a coding course he was studying with the General Assembly. His tutor tweeted about it, which was then picked up by Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian and in turn the Next Web and the Atlantic.
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