Are online news aggregators vampires? – Catherine Tucker

MIT Sloan Professor Catherine Tucker

MIT Sloan Professor Catherine Tucker

It isn’t often that an MIT Professor studies “vampire” like entities. However, that is exactly how news aggregators such as Huffington Post and Google News have been described by Mark Cuban of Shark Tank fame.

The reason that Mr. Cuban thinks that aggregators deserve dracula-like appelations is that as he expresses – “Don’t let them suck your blood. Vampires take, but don’t give anything back.” In other words if you produce content the work of such news aggregators is viewed as been purely parasitic.

However, in a recent study I have shown that aggregators are not the blood suckers of the media industry that some have thought they were.

The study focuses on the 2010 showdown between Google News and the Associated Press over digital aggregation of news content by the Google platform. In January 2010, after a breakdown in licensing negotiations, Google News removed from its platform all news articles by the Associated Press, a media consortium that produces and shares news stories among its media members, including both large and small newspapers in the U.S.

The dispute lasted only a few months, but it provided a terrific opportunity to gauge how online traffic is impacted by the inclusion, then exclusion, of aggregated online content on a platform.

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Time for Real Gun Control, Not Just Window Dressing — Christopher Knittel

MIT Sloan Prof. Christopher Knittel

From the Huffington Post

I have been a hunter and gun owner throughout my life; prior to moving to Massachusetts two years ago, I owned three guns, a shotgun, a rifle, and a semi-automatic 9mm pistol. I enjoy hunting and target shooting and believe there are legitimate uses for guns.

I am also an applied economics professor in the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology whose research focuses on the costs, benefits, and effectiveness of policy. I have therefore followed the discussion of gun control with interest.

The United States has a long history of regulating firearms. Normal citizens cannot bear nuclear arms, they can’t bear rocket launchers, tanks, or a long list of other arms. There are also severe restrictions on owning fully-automatic guns. These restrictions effectively make them illegal for most of us. Given this history, policymakers should focus on how best to balance the enjoyment citizens get from owning and operating certain types of guns with the obvious real danger such weapons present.

Christopher Knittel is a Professor of applied economics, MIT Sloan School of Management