Editorial bias: Apple News’ human editors prefer a few major newsrooms, study shows

“Stung by changes to Facebook’s news feed, publishers are reportedly ‘falling in love with Apple News’ — though the affection may not always be mutual,” Pete Brown writes for Columbia Journalism Review. “Unlike its rivals, Apple News employs human editors who curate news in addition to its algorithmic feed. When Apple first advertised for these positions, the company specified that the editors must “’be able to recognize original, compelling stories unlikely to be identified by algorithms.'”

“But humans, like algorithms, are prone to habit, and Apple News may have fallen into a pattern that Facebook and others have been trying to avoid: editorial bias,” Brown writes. “A new Tow Center analysis of almost 7,000 recommendations made in newsletters and tweets by the US and UK arms of Apple News shows a strong tendency by editors to favor a small group of big players and less inclination to promote regionally focused news outlets — a class of publisher that New York Times Editor Dean Baquet put at the center of ‘the greatest crisis in journalism’ in a speech at the Freedom of the Press Awards.”

“It is the Times itself that has dominated newsletter recommendations from Apple News’s US editors, while the Daily Telegraph is held up as the gold standard by their UK counterparts,” Brown writes. “On average, these outlets have received one of the five places in their country’s newsletters every other week. Across the 78 US newsletters reviewed by Tow, just 14 of the 390 articles recommended — under 4 percent — came from newsrooms that fit this study’s broad definition of a regionally focused publisher.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The best way to consume “news” is to cast a wide net.

As always, readers of “news” need to consider the sources and interpret what they are are being told accordingly. The more disparate sources you can find, the better. And we don’t mean different newspaper, network, website brands that are all owned by the same conglomerate. Determining the actual ownership of your “news” sources is an investment that requires a bit of time, but it is very enlightening. — MacDailyNews Take, June 17, 2015

P.S. In the Apple News app, just search for MacDailyNews and thanks for favoriting us!

New York magazine editor Lauren Kern named first Editor-in-Chief of Apple News – May 25, 2017
Who’s going to ‘curate’ Apple News? – August 13, 2015
The Apple News app is doomed – July 30, 2015
The future’s not looking too bright for Apple News – July 30, 2015
Apple hiring team of journalists for News app; a ‘jaw-dropping’ development says publisher – June 15, 2015
Apple News is fast, responsive, enjoyable, and it might become your only news app – July 15, 2015
Apple News shows that Apple wants to bolster and profit from ads, not eliminate them – July 10, 2015
Apple News to have human curation – and that raises issues – June 15, 2015


    1. non sequitur response.

      Of course Apple’s curators are going to use a narrow list of sources. Apple doesn’t have the resources to vet every source, that would take a staff of journalists. Tim won’t cough up the money for that. All Apple wanted to do was to have a feature that matched whatever Google or Snap or whatever offered. Mission accomplished. It is what it is, Apple isn’t going to improve it.

      Besides, the extremists on both ends of the political spectrum here loudly declare all mass media to be always wrong, so you should be happy that Apple only chooses a few publications to endorse.

      The biggest problem is that some people have so thoroughly drunk the kool aid from one particular source or personality for so long, whether it is Limbaugh or Out Magazine, that every other point of view looks extreme from their own narrow viewpoints. Apple will no doubt act like every other major publication: do the least amount of investigative journalism so to avoid pissing off any advertisers. Publish corporate press releases as if it was news. Curry favor of whatever local politicians are in power. Mudpuddle deep editorials designed to sell subscriptions by using the most controversial or titillating titles.

      I strongly prefer to read a wide swath of publications, from many regions and nations, and when possible in multiple languages. You can to, even if you have to resort to to translation software. It will be amazing how much more objective the unbiased foreign reporter is on most subjects. Only then are you actually going to get a good perspective of any situation.

      Note: most of the internet sites you read, including MDN, are just repeaters, rumor sites, and opinion. Apple News should not point to other aggregators and repeaters, they should only refer readers to the original content source. You may be surprised how few independent news agencies exist these days. Companies that actually set up and perform their own objective tests, like Consumer Reports, are attacked by websites like MDN when their conclusions don’t align with MDN’s obvious bias — but of course MDN refuses to propose a better way or do any professional reviews themselves. Is anyone surprised? The most biased “journalists” are the ones first to complain about the perceived biases of other publications.

          1. well unlike whoever you think you are, Mike has provided very good insight and counterpoint to the absurdly broad brush assertions that some people here make. Mike is grounded in reality unlike many nasty personal attackers who parachute in with their passive aggressive attacks. if you can’t figure out what Mike is saying, you probably should shut up and reread what he wrote again.

  1. The conclusion of the article reads, “So when Apple News gives space to regional publishers, it’s an oddity. And even then, those “original, compelling stories” tend to come from a rather shallow pool..” This doesn’t seem surprising to me. How many “oroginal, compelling stories” which are relevant to Apple News readers would you expect from a very small regional outlet?

    1. In light of the previous article on this site that states that Apple no longer tells consumers what’s best for them.
      Embrace the “broad net” idea and let me decide, please.

      1. You are awfully quick to dump on Apple for something that is your responsibility. Apple News is a curated news aggregator. It is only one of many sources of news available to you in print, digital, and video. You have choices, and you should not expect Apple to cover all of your needs like mothering a baby.

        The point is, you *can* decide! You can decide whether or not to use Apple News. And you can decide which links to follow within Apple News. I often end up five or six layers away from the Top Stories list. I believe that I am far more informed, both in breadth and depth, on a variety of topics than I was before Apple News.

        Make your choices and quit whining. Apple is not here to wipe your butt and make the world perfect for you.

        1. No where was it stated I rely on, or in a SJW-way, need Apple to be broad and fair with their content. I don’t read and probably won’t use Apple news. I prefer a broader net.
          Settle yourself down and read the post for what it is…a contradiction observed and contradiction stated.

      2. There is no such thing as a “broad net” idea news site.

        In any given day, tens of thousands of articles go up on the Internet. Some of them are major stories that will win Pulitzer Prizes for substantive journalism. Others are recipes for blueberry muffins. Some of them are about the hurricane that is about to hit your hometown. Others are about how the Cali Cartel is personally run by Queen Elizabeth II (link available on request). Some discuss the death of major world leaders; others are the obituary column in the local paper for a small town in South Asia. Some describe the latest school shooting; others deny that any school shooting has ever happened anywhere. Some give useful health advice; others are shill pieces for quack remedies.

        I suppose that it would be possible to design an un-curated news service that provided links to every one of those articles, listed in strict order of publication, without giving any of them prominence over any other. Such a service would be about as useful as a university library with the books stacked in order of publication and no catalog.

        Any newspaper must make judgements about which stories are important enough for the front page, which go in the front section, which in the additional sections, and which must be left out entirely. Digital media must make the same judgments about what to include and how prominently to display it. Because of the volume, some of those choices may be made by computer algorithms and others by human editors, but the choices must be made.

        Those choices will always be debatable. No story from or about NASA is going to please a flat-earther. No story from a fact-checking site is going to please someone who plays loose with the truth. Nothing from Fox News is going to please a socialist. Still, choices must be made.

        The editors will never be perfect, but their work is necessary. The best sites (like Apple News) provide plenty of links to articles with a wide variety of viewpoints, and those articles each come with a further set of links. You can pursue whatever you want in however much depth you want. But that is your choice. You cannot leave it up to somebody else.

        However, you have to start somewhere that presents information in a digestible form. Only an edited/curated source can do that.

        1. “ Nothing from Fox News is going to please a socialist.”

          Nothing from the N.Y. Times is going to please a conservative. There, I fixed it for you FAKE conservative … 😡

          1. Goeb, you fixed nothing. The NY Times has one of the most comprehensive staffs of journalists of any newspaper. One doesn’t have to agree with every article in order to recognize the level of work they put in to get as close to the unvarnished truth as possible.

            What does Fox News have? Talking heads acting as stooges for Murdoch, that’s what. They don’t even pretend to do deep investigation anymore. It’s a “he said, she said, they reacted to this tweet” gossip site now. Anyone with a brain can see right through the excuses Hannity et al dole out for their handlers every day.

            1. Mike, you fixed NOTHING. Hannity does more serious journalism than the entire editorial staff of the N.Y. Times combined with their liberal bias.

              I’ll give you just ONE example to prove my point. If the NYT did their job, rather than shelve it and ignore the Clinton e-mail scandal, she would be behind bars by now. Get a grip, PARTISAN …

            2. Actually, the NYT covered the Clinton email thing as much as Fox did. It just didn’t reach the same conclusion about the issue that you and Fox did. That’s a difference of opinion, not bad journalism or fake news.

              The NYT took the position described by John Adams: “We seek to establish a government of laws and not of men.”

              A government of laws = Before suggesting that somebody should be placed behind bars, one has to (1) identify a criminal statute passed by Congress or a state legislature that was in effect at the time of the alleged offense; (2) List each of the separate elements required to commit that offense; (3) Believe that each and every one of those elements can be proven to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt by convincing evidence from credible witnesses available for cross-examination, and admissible under the rules of evidence; AND (4) Believe that there is no effective defense for the proven criminal conduct. The decision to prosecute is made by a prosecutor bound by oath to follow the law, and the decision to convict is made by a neutral and independent judge and jury.

              A government of men = If you don’t like somebody and you disagree with something they did, you don’t have to show a statutory violation or list any evidence. You just have to lead a crowd in chants of “Lock her up.” Once you are President, you ARE the Executive Branch, and have absolute discretion to start, direct, and suspend federal prosecutions without meeting any legal standards.

              As Adams also said, “For as in absolute governments the King is law, so in free countries the law ought to be King; and there ought to be no other.”

            3. “Actually, the NYT covered the Clinton email thing as much as Fox did. It just didn’t reach the same conclusion about the issue that you and Fox did. That’s a difference of opinion, not bad journalism or fake news.”

              “It just didn’t reach the same conclusion”

              Of course not. The LIBERAL N.Y. Times is in the tank for Hillary, hello? …

          2. Jesus McFuq you are a moron, GoeB. Why can’t you go be a smart person? No, you have to be a moronski of the highest order.

            Ediwhoreial? That’s you, GoeB, who is GoeBeing a diq. A very small one at that.

    2. There are often regional stories with national impact or broad human interest (Texas power outages, recall of Calif. Gov.Newsom over COVID, police shootings or mass shootings in a particular city/town, Flint water crisis, good Samaritans. Countless examples.

  2. I use Apple News a lot. But I have not customized it in any way by “liking” specific things. I look around in Apple News and read a variety of articles. In most cases, I see links in those articles and I follow some of them. I end up going to a wide variety of media sources, many of which I never would have seen in the old days before Apple News.

    Right now the Top Stories on the “For You” tab include sources like Politico, NYT, Racked, NPR, Bloomberg, People, Mashable, and Huffpost. But Fox is generally in that mix along with other players, and I make an effort to read articles with different perspectives.

    You get out what you put in. If you only want to read news that reinforces your existing beliefs and attitudes, then you can easily find a few media sources that cater to you. Personally, I go for the news buffet table and sample from a wide range of platters.

    I agree that the human curators for Apple News should make an effort to provide a range of viewpoints in their article selections. But I am not surprised at all that they let their human side influence their choices. There is some bias in *all* news sources, by the way. It is ultimately up to you to seek out variety to form a more complete picture of the world.

        1. Fabulous vid! Brings back memories like the first time I saw Rush in Allentown, PA at a small venue in 1979. I was amazed at the richness of the music played by three guys, although I think they had a keyboard player off to the side. Enjoyed it much, thanks …

            1. No, not in terms of musical power (not volume). In terms of an enduring, progressing creative venture, Rush was a wonder. Though never fitting my taste, I grew in respect and awe when watching their Netflix feature. Great, great story.

            2. Cream????? i have to disagree. when they were sober enough to perform, Cream was still sloppy and out of tune. power is nothing without control.

              do not forget that Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble was a trio for the early years. it doesn’t get better than that for rock trios. of course, SRV could outperform anybody single handed. Poor Joe Satriani had to share the stage with him on MTV Unplugged, so you can easily see the difference between very good and total guitar prodigy.

              in Canadian trios, Triumph in its day was as popular as Rush if not moreso. Rik Emmett’s guitar and singing were better than Rush, much more accessible, imho. but yeah, Peart may be the best rock drummer of all time.

              hard to believe that ZZ Top outlasted all the other power trios.

            3. I saw SRV at a free concert on the San Antonio Riverwalk in the 1980s when he was absolutely smokin! Believe it was during their annual “Fiesta” celebration.

              My brother is a drummer in various local bands for close to 30 years. The drummer he most admires is Bill Buford from the early “Yes” years and later Alan White. Not to take anything away from Peart, my brother says the timing of their drumming is the most difficult to follow and replicate because they change it up so fast and so often in the same song.

              I don’t know, i’m musical instrument illiterate, but I do know what good tunes sounds like …


    FB Has Excluded WikiLeaks From Its 80 Trusted News Sources, Meaning I Can’t Trust FB’s 80 Sources.

    1. Spot on, JD. FAKEbook has no right to claim social or any other form of responsibility. They are part of the problem.

      I kicked the tires with Apple News selecting a variety of sources. I found it to be exactly the SAME as the LAMESTREAM MEDIA 24/7 dump on Trump like CNN.

      The greatest news aggregator on planet Earth, in numbers too, that lists both left and right leaning stories is the “Drudge Report.” Plus an occasional rare nugget of news of the weird or fantastic.

      I gave up on fair and balanced from Apple News …

    2. WikiLeaks is a front for Putin’s KGB.

      Also, don’t confuse muckraking with journalism. Every public figure can be pilloried for some mistake they once made. The question is whether they are performing their duties here and now as they are obligated to do. That’s what’s missing — accurate evaluation of public officials. All you get in most papers today is corporate press releases and overhyped personality-based tweeting reactions. There aren’t but a handful of deep investigative journalists left. WL is not one of them.

      1. “WikiLeaks is a front for Putin’s KGB.”

        WikiLeaks Provided more FACTUAL INFORMATION than the NYT, WP, CNN and the Putin government COMBINED.

        Get a grip, Mike …

  4. There are ways to access Fox, Breitbart, InfoWars and other alternate reality sites. I sample them occasionally, but a daily diet of that stuff will corrode your mind. You are not hurt by what you read, but what you do not read.

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