A barrier to online news dominance

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Stephen Davies has flagged an interesting report by the World Association of Newspapers (WAN) – via AP on Yahoo! News that online and mobile web news sources will dominate news stories. The survey views things from a business and financial perspective without thinking about the infrastructure implications. Time and time again mainstream online news site have failed when really big news breaks.

This isn’t about differences in journalism in an always-on enviroment or the change in writing style to cater for a web page and the Google crawler as a very important reader, but about the infrastructure of the web itself.

From trying to view the news about a solar eclipse in UK back in August 1999 on the end of a T1 line, to trying to view the Yahoo! UK home page in the aftermath of the July 7 bombings and not being able to use my cell phone for most of the day shows how vulnerable these services really are.

IP-based packet networks which the the web and mobile web runs upon is a best effort network that is highly inefficient at getting things from point-to-point. You clog it it up with a surge in demand and consumers seeking information a operates in the same way to a denial-of-service attack on both news sites and the internet infrastructure.

Whilst news print can hear the long train running, these kind of situations show radio and television have the scale and the scope to show up the internet as a fair weather news provider and will ensure that at least some mainstream media news brands will continue to dominate over the coming years.