The Reasons ABC Tied Up With Yahoo: Facebook, Twitter

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Here at the Washington Ideas Forum, the heads of ABC, NBC, and CBS took to the stage for a panel moderated by our James Fallows. Alongside the discussions of international reportage and the politicization of news, ABC president Ben Sherwood provided an interesting rationale for his outfits expanded partnership with Yahoo. Here's the thing. As explained by Sherwood, the deal was not an effort to reach (large) Yahoo's audience per se.

Yahoo, he said, was the largest provider of news items that were shared on Twitter and Facebook. Ergo, "If we are the primary news provider to Yahoo, we'll be the primary news provider on Facebook and Twitter," Sherwood said.

Washington Ideas Forum - Full Coverage When the deal was announced, I tweeted that I didn't have anything interesting to say about it. But if you look at what Sherwood is saying, they didn't buy an audience, but a distribution platform that was formerly called the audience. That's a fascinating idea. You don't buy passive eyeballs, you buy active sharers. "News is fundamentally social," Sherwood says. "We embrace it."

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he oversees the Technology Channel. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer calls Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science Web site in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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