Apple’s ambitious News app to rely on humans over algorithms for curation

“Apple is hiring a team of editors to work on the Apple News app unveiled during the company’s recent WWDC event,” Stuart Dredge writes for The Guardian. “By hiring editors, Apple appears to be taking a different path to direct competitors like Flipboard, as well as Facebook – which recently announced plans to start hosting news articles by publisher partners – which focus more on algorithms to decide what stories people see in their feeds.”

“However, Apple’s emphasis on human curation is likely to spark questions about what will happen when the company – or competing platforms like Android – become the news,” Dredge writes. “Tax affairs, human rights issues in Chinese factories, iPhone antenna issues, misfiring mapping software, leaked device prototypes, free U2 albums, games censorship controversies, child labour, surveillance issues are all examples of Apple making the headlines in recent years in ways the company would not have enjoyed.”

“How will editors employed by Apple treat these kinds of stories?” Dredge asks. “And, indeed, how will they treat positive stories about the company’s rivals?”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: It’s a catch-22, but should it become a highly-used app, the more eyes – inside and outside – watching what Apple’s News app deems to be news, the better.

SEE ALSO:

Apple hiring team of journalists for News app; a ‘jaw-dropping’ development says publisher – June 15, 2015
Apple News to have human curation – and that raises issues – June 15, 2015
Flipboard CEO blasts Apple’s News app as ‘something that we actually shipped five years ago’ – June 12, 2015
Apple dumps Newsstand, takes on Facebook with Flipboard-like ‘News’ app – June 9, 2015

22 Comments

  1. The potential of the News App (emphasis,.. this is potential, not a measure of probabilit):

    1. Sources of information that other sites/apps gloss over.
    2. Faster loading
    3. Advertisements / scripts which do not farm personal data
    4. Sharing links, which do not farm personal data
    5. Updates on news stories
    6. Links to In-depth analysis

    Lesser potential

    7. new UI designs

    1. Exactly. The authors of such bias remain hidden and there is no accountability. At least with this setup, there are people with names who can be taken to task for any perceived bias.

      1. Blazingly stupid article… as if algorithms didn’t come from humans and are supposed to embody some kind of objectivity.

        And again – why ask now, because there is an Apple app? Substitute the name of ANY news outlet in the questions being posed.

  2. My guess: Apple will do the controversial stuff just as well as the mainstream news organizations who will feed them. Perhaps better because of they may bring a world-wide view. I wonder if they’ll stream Al Jazeera.

    But the main question is: what about the really important news – Paris Hilton and Kim Kardassian (sp?).

  3. News sources have their own biasses and in the case of the Guardian, what used to be a favourable bias towards Apple has become a somewhat negative bias against Apple, so it’s hardly surprising that the Guardian is trying to paint this issue as a problem.

    Until there are truly unbiassed news sources, you have to accept that much news reporting is slanted to some extent and if you want to see the bigger picture, you need to get your news from multiple sources, preferably from multiple countries.

    I have looked and failed to find stories on Google News when I knew that there were negative stories around concerning Google, so it wouldn’t be at all surprising if Apple were also selective to a certain extent when it comes to choosing one story over another. Many newspapers are owned by larger businesses ( we all know about Murdoch’s empire, but there are comparable situations with other newspapers ) and those newspapers invariably report highly selectively when the story concerns their proprietor of his business interests.

    1. It’s not unheard of for a newspaper to employ an ombudsman, a person independent enough to investigate complaints and publicize the paper’s failings, especially news bias. Supposedly this type of position shores up journalistic integrity.

      It’s also not unheard of for the ombudsman position to disappear without fanfare after reporting a few black eyes.

          1. If this is true then the premise of the ombudsman is an epic fail!

            If Apple hires “journalists” for their news app that will be Apple’s first faux pas! Why would we need more of the same?!

    2. It seems inevitable that accusations of bias will arise with respect to Apple News. There are people who will spend many hours seeking a perceived oversight or slight.

      It is worth noting that, just because an article is published, it is not necessarily news. There are a lot of opinion pieces based far more on supposition and emotion than evidence and fact.

      I don’t expect Apple News to be perfect. Nor am I going to waste my time speculating about the potential faults of a news service that has not even gone live. How can people get so worked up about theoretical flaws in an as-yet nonexistent online service?

  4. Yes, there will be bias. How will that be different from any other news source?

    The key is to understand the bias of source and to filter accordingly as you read.

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