Felix Salmon, Reuters, February 11, 2014
For centuries, news has been based on a broadcasting paradigm: a small group of journalists creates a product — a self-contained news bundle — which is then consumed by a very large group of viewers or readers or listeners. Various different bundles competed for your attention: you might get your news from the New York Times, or the Economist, or NPR, or the NBC Nightly News, or Newsweek, or any of a thousand other outlets. In any case, the atomic unit of news, from the consumer’s perspective, was the bundle, not the story. Any given individual would get her news from only a handful of outlets in any given week — quite frequently, only one or two.
Now, everybody is a journalist, or at least a contributor to other people’s news feeds. There are still a few individuals whose links matter a lot — Matt Drudge, most obviously, or John Gruber. They have an ability to provide the kind of links that millions of people want to follow. But the traffic they drive is dwarfed by the aggregated power of Facebook, where millions of links, and other snippets of information, are shared every minute.