Curating News: MuckRack Shows Off Mainstream Media

In the not-quite-two-decades since I first got online, I like to think I’ve gotten smarter and better informed as a result of tons of reading and interacting with people I’d never met. It’s one of the greater things about a life spent online.

(Digression: On December 25, 1992 I got a modem installed on my first PC, with an install floppy for the Prodigy service–a walled garden co-owned by Sears and IBM that helped many ordinary people get online when AOL only ran on the Mac. Expect a much longer reminiscence of those days in …oh, about a year.)

It might be a cliché by now, but true nonetheless: there is so much information accessible to us with some keystrokes and mouse clicks, it’s hard for an ordinary mortal to keep up. Did I also mention that the same is largely true about misinformation? So a ton of services, sites and software tools have sprung up to help us cope with the firehose of data and help us (ideally) get smarter and better informed in the process. Or maybe just give us more ammunition in the daily debates. They’ve come to be called “curation services,” because like art museum curators, they try to choose the best and/or most representative works for a particular exhibit.

I’m trying to sort through these services to find the One True Source (or maybe the Two or Three True Sources) of curated news. And I hope you’ll find the results of this search useful, interesting, and perhaps even a little entertaining. The chronicle of the journey will be occasional over the next few months, and assuming I get to Post #2, it will have its own category over there on the sidebar.

MuckRack, where you find out what reporters geek out on

[Friday Talk Club] Introducing Muck Rack

For the first experiment in this area, I want to tell you about MuckRack, a two-year-old site I only found recently, but that has proven quite addictive to this news junkie. I could spend hours here daily, if I didn’t have a real job.

The premise here is to aggregate journalist postings on a variety of social media (originally just Twitter, but now all the usual suspects) to “get tomorrow’s newspaper today.” As a business model, they’re looking to pair up PR folks with writers who are actually interested in the pitches.

So as a news consumer, what does this site give you?

  • You can see the stories that the mainstream media is following at any given moment. MuckRack offers a Trending Now box in a sidebar, and the individual writers who are the busiest posters in the country.
  • When reporters link to other news stories, you can see the story (and the commentary about the story from the assembled reporters) on the page.
  • Anyone can also view the MuckRack Journalist Directory, organized by media organization. Click through to follow your favorite reporters.
  • You can also sign up for the MuckRack Daily, a cheeky morning newsletter that delivers the hot stories in a very digestible format, along with the “Watercooler” section, where you see what reporters are reading about journalism and the media business.

In short, if you want to learn more about mainstream journalism and the process of creating the news, MuckRack is the place to go. It’s not perfect; as all the weaknesses of “follow the pack” journalism tend to be on display here. Despite naming the site after the original “muckrakers,” known today as investigative reporters, you won’t see a lot of investigative stories here on any given day, but I suppose that’s a reality generally.

You will see the wit and wordplay that come to writers naturally, though. And reporters know how to craft a punchy sentence, a big plus when you’ve got a 140-character limit.

How do you keep up with the news in general, or other topics of interest? Has the Internet made you smarter, or better informed (reasons, please!)? Is there a favorite (or less favorite) curated news site you’d like to see me review in this spot? Comment away…

Happy New Year everyone!