WSJ.com - Yahoo 'Hybrid' Now Dominates News Web Sites: "In a contest between man and machine, traditional news Web sites are facing competition from online challengers that employ computers as editors -- Google Inc. being the prime example.
But challenging them all is the news site of Yahoo Inc., a hybrid that pairs human oversight with automation and serves up news from multiple sources. In six of the past 14 months, Yahoo's news site has drawn more unique visitors than any rival, displacing longtime news leader CNN.com, according to research firm Nielsen/NetRatings.
Yahoo's news strategy dates back to the mid-1990s, when it cut deals with the likes of Reuters PLC to display headlines alongside its human-compiled directory of the Web. Yahoo created its "full coverage" service, where editors bring together stories from multiple sources on the same topic, following the August 1995 death of Jerry Garcia, leader of the band the Grateful Dead. Frustrated that he couldn't find a single place with multiple news stories, Yahoo co-founder David Filo initiated the editor-selected coverage.
Yahoo won't say how many editors it has today, but the small news operation across the street from Yahoo's Sunnyvale, Calif., headquarters currently has room for roughly 15 to 20 editorial staffers. Mr. Budde says their ranks have been growing with the redesign and plans for more packaging of stories.
The editors monitor stories arriving from news organizations, choose headlines for Yahoo's home page, and pull together links to stories on big topics. On election night in November, Yahoo editors made their own calls as to which presidential candidate had won each state before coloring in the electoral map on their site.
Yahoo credits traffic from other parts of its site with pushing it into the No. 1 online-news slot. New York research firm Hitwise Inc. estimates that more than 85% of Yahoo news visitors arrive there from another part of Yahoo -- an advantage over most of its traditional media rivals."