I’ll start with a brief update on the Ebola content being churned out by the six sites I selected. As far as I could tell, the Student Blog hadn’t posted anything new on the virus, although the website that hosts the blog had published an article headlined “Ethical dilemmas of giving Ebola drugs to the people who need them most.” Pinterest didn’t have much of anything, other than recommendations of other health-related pins. The three feed / list / compilation sites (Reddit and the two Twitter pages) had been restocked with the latest items on Ebola, as they are basically gateway sites that don’t publish original content. And as expected, the Washington Post had published a number of items on Ebola — including articles and photo galleries — since I had first checked in.
The nature and standing of the sites strongly factored into their abilities to keep up with the latest on Ebola and continue to publish fresh and original items. With its huge staff and high standing, the Washington Post is able to post about Ebola almost daily, including articles detailing the latest developments, videos for consumers who prefer watching to reading and graphics that complement or bolster the text. The compilation sites also are able to keep up with the developing story, largely because their work doesn’t consist of reporting and writing — instead, reading and hitting “share.” That isn’t to say curation is completely artless; those who run such sites must consume a lot of news themselves, try their best to ensure nothing significant falls through the cracks and decide which stories to share from the ocean of online content.
While my knowledge of Pinterest is quite limited, I feel confident in saying it isn’t a surprise to see that Pinterest isn’t taking a lead in Ebola-related reporting. Consumers of news who would be interested enough in Ebola to read about it online are more likely to visit other sites for news on the virus; it doesn’t seem like Pinterest’s place. The site that hosts the Student Blog clearly can’t keep pace with the likes of the Washington Post and the New York Times, but the site’s strict focus on health and medicine forges a niche in which the site can operate effectively alongside media giants. It seems to me that the site that hosts the Student Blog has targeted those interested in medicine as the core of its readership, probably knowing it couldn’t compete with larger publications by posting straight-forward news stories.