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Geek Speak: In-depth with Regator Co-Founder Kimberly Turner

Submitted by on June 15, 2011 – 5:47 pmNo Comment |

As part of a post I’m working on for Business Insider, I had the pleasure of interviewing Regator co-founder Kimberly Turner last week.  This past Thursday, Kimberly and her colleagues at Regator (one of the best places to discover quality content on the web, IMO) launched a new product called Regator Breaking News (RBN).  In just a few days, the application has become near and dear to my blogging heart.

Using semantic algorithms and the curated collection of web content on Regator proper, RBN is able to determine what is trending faster than Twitter and major news services like CNN or Reuters.  Up-to-the-minute news alerts are sent to your email inbox, meaning you, as a blogger, have the chance to break a story before it hits mainstream media.

When I talked to Kimberly, I asked her why she wanted to launch RBN, what type of news is most popular and the ways she’s seen technology change the field of journalism.  Here’s what she had to say:

Jenn Prentice (JP): What was the impetus for starting Regator Breaking News?

Kimberly Turner (KT):  I was a journalist for 10 years, so I know firsthand that there’s so much information out there that it’s overwhelming.  You spend so much time looking at RSS feeds, making sure you don’t miss anything.  I have a Master’s Degree in applied linguistics–which I’ve been able to use in developing Regator’s semantic algorithms–and I realized that through experimentation that not only could we analyze all the curated data we already had on Regator, but are also able to identify big news stories before they reach major news sites.

JP: I’ve noticed that my RBN alerts are a bit skewed toward entertainment news.  What conclusions, if any, have you been able to draw about what types of news people are interested in from looking at RBN’s results?

KT:  When something major happens, regardless of the topic, we pick it up quickly.  I think news in general is becoming more skewed toward entertainment pieces because people in the entertainment industry have employees who send out press releases to tons of media outlets every time they do something.  It’s definitely getting more bubblegum out there. while we could talk about what that means sociologically, it could be something as simple as the fact that people have really serious stuff going on in their lives these days and they might be interested in taking their minds off it.

JP: Have you found any other site that you would consider competition for RBM?

KT: I don’t think there’s anyone specifically doing anything like what we’re doing, but I suppose competition would be anywhere that people go to find their breaking news.  CNN, Reuters, Yahoo News. We’ve timed ourselves against most of them and we’re faster at breaking news.

JP: And how is RBN able to report news so fast?

KT: What I think makes us work best is that we’re curated on the front end through the content we allow or don’t allow in Regator’s blog directory;  and the actual breaking news alerts are generated through algorithms. That makes us faster than other sites because we’re generating stories just as they start to take off, not after someone has sifted through all the content that’s already out there.

JP: Other than up-to-the-minute news reports, are there any other ways that RBN helps journalists out?

KT:  The key for any journalist is that first you have to know what you’re gonna write about.  RBN is not intended to replace reporting, and in fact, we firmly believe that serious reporting has to place on every story.  So, we also provide historical data and images along with our breaking news alerts. We pull historical data from Regator so that people can identify peaks in interest in a story or other stories that may have related to a breaking news item in the past.  The images are from the sources that we have, or point people to places where they can find or purchase images.  The bottom line is that as things move faster and faster, we are trying to help people move faster and faster as well.

Regator Breaking News is regularly $19.99 for individuals or $14.99 per user for newsrooms, but the company is currently offering a 14-day free trial and the first three months of membership at half price.  After just five days of using the application for both personal and professional reasons, I’d say it’s worth it’s weight in story-idea-generating gold.

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