LinkedIn, the popular professional and job networking site has added a new feature intended to make news links and slide shows easier to find.

This week the social media site launched “Channels” – its name for topics on LinkedIn today, its news hub. The “Channels”  include topics such as “social impact”, “the economy,” “your career”. Some of the channels, like “Things I Carry” and “My Best Career Mistake” are based on LinkedIn’s monthly content packages that incorporate themed essays from LinkedIn’s chosen “thought leaders.”

They “Channels”  allow LinkedIn members to customize the news they see based on their interests. Now members can browse, sort, and follow content by category.

LinkedIn is trying to help its members develop professionally and get better at their current jobs – not just find new ones.

In addition to offering more content of interest to users, “Channels” is an important way to get people to use the site more frequently.  This will in turn help LinkedIn build up its advertising business. It could also help LinkedIn build up its database of information about its members. Right now, LinkedIn mostly has data that members share, like their education and employment history. By tracking what news a member views on LinkedIn, it can develop insightful knowledge about them such as their interests outside their immediate professional field or new interests by knowing what articles they read. This information could be used by recruiters – a key customer base for LinkedIn, find not only people with a track record in a particular industry, but not so obvious candidates for jobs.

Previously, LinkedIn’s customization options were more limited: Members could follow companies or industries, as well as LinkedIn’s “influencers”,  high-profile business leaders who contribute articles to the site. The redesign of LinkedIn today adds emphasis on posts from these “influencers” as well.

Currently, there are around 20 channels. The company expects to add more in the future.