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By mgieva • June 8, 2010

The Times' Scoop perpetuates gatekeeping power

We are made to believe that we are the gatekeepers of new media—the ones who blog, upload videos and share on social media. It is all up to us! Or at least until editorial power crawls in through the cracks of the wall separating old and new media.

Last week, The New York Times announced that it is launching The Scoop, a free iPhone application through which Times will recommend favorite restaurants and bars. Some argued that this application will create competition for Foursquare, the leader in location-based social media. "The New York Times Fights Back against Foursquare and Yelp," read an article in The Next Web.

But can this Times product really compete with loose social platforms like Foursquare? No, I would argue. Innovative Web 2.0 environments open themselves to community judgement. You go to a place, you recommend it, you write the review, and thus you add a personal flavor to your network's experiences. But who is going to write the recommendations for The Scoop? A New York Times restaurant critic and a dining editor.

I am not sure how people will react to the Times' new tool. Loyal readers will probably dig it. Others might notice the gatekeeping element in the service and approach it with caution. Why caution?

Because it is a step backwards. The Times will let readers contribute to the application by submitting events to thescoop@nytimes.com. Sounds a lot like a letter to the editor. But why go through a gatekeeper when now you can make direct recommendations? How is this application leveraging the opportunity to better use feedback channels?

I am sure many will enjoy reading the well-written lines of The Scoop. But if you read between the lines, you might get the real scoop— gatekeeping will continue to be part of the new media realm.

Photo Credit: DaveAustria.com