Like many people in the new-media world, I follow a large number of industry news sources, both mainstream and blogs. Like many, I use Google Reader for this. And again like many, I feel burdened by the amount of time that this takes. On any given day my "new media" folder grows by some 300-400 unread articles. And while it's easy to discard the large majority of these, some 10% are close enough to my areas of interest that I feel I should at least take a look at them. That means 30-40 articles per day.
Of these 30-40 articles, most are waste a of time. This is not because I'm not interested in what they are talking about, but because they are not the ultimate sources for the stories they cover. Apart from providing links, they contribute little value beyond regurgitating other people's content. The 'ultimate sources' that I do want to read may be a publication (mainstream or not) where a story broke, an article with particularly insightful commentary, or a press release.
Now, the publications that I follow are all decent enough to provide links to their sources, but I waste a lot of time getting to those links and skimming my various sources' take on the same stories to realise what the key references are. When I'm done with this, only about 3-4 articles were really worth reading - and they are very rarely on the sites I follow.
It would be easy for Google to do this work for me - it is what PageRank is all about, and it is what Google News (but not Reader) already does. I am not suggesting that only the 'ultimate sources' be shown. Rather, I am suggesting that what all my sources say about a given story be shown in a threaded way, like the conversation that news is, with the opening statement at the top - even if it comes from someone I don't know.
There is value in content, and there is value in aggregation, but there is limited value in providing the two together. The value that I get from the 'aggregator' publications that I follow is rarely to do with their content and mostly to do with their aggregation - i.e. with their links. When they write too much content they are not giving me value - they are wasting my time.
By 'aggregating the aggregators' Google would not just be doing its users a favour. It would also help reward original content creators. Yes, mainstream media may stand to benefit from this, and if so that is their due (and yes, some pay-walls would get money from this). But it would also benefit anyone with something genuinely interesting to say.
As to those who have nothing to say but lots to aggregate, I say two things:
First, you started this, so you can't complain about being aggregated away.
Second, as far as I'm concerned, you have little to worry about. My loyalty is to you, not to content creators, and this is worth money. You can show me advertisements, invite me to events and tell me about jobs. You can do this better than anyone because good aggregation is a great way of reaching a professional niche.
Just don't think it's about your content. It's not that sort of relationship. In fact, take it out, make me happier and save some costs.