Apple News Zags While Others Zig

What do you think of Apple’s new strategy to use humans over machines to pick headlines for Apple News?

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Total Votes : 21

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For years, the world’s tech giants have relied on algorithms to pull what they believed to be the appropriate news articles to display on their respective news streams. That is until Apple decided to go in a completely different direction.

Per The New York Times, the famous tech company went in what’s considered an unusual direction back in 2015 by building a newsroom consisting of a team of journalists to select what articles millions upon millions of regular Apple News users would see atop the app daily.

To create the team, they poached editors from popular publications and websites such as The Times, CNN, Bleacher Report, The Journal, etc., and to lead them, they recruited Laura Kern, formerly a rising executive editor of New York Magazine, to be their editor-in-chief.

It was quite a strange strategy, considering the tech-reliant world we live in, but Apple had its reasons. One was they argued it would be the lifeline to journalism, which is still up for debate.

Arguably the biggest one, however, was that human sensibility is vital and more dependable than solely relying on algorithms, which can be insensitive, among other flaws, because it lacks the human element.

For example, when the Florida governor battle was being covered, race, which is a sensitive topic, was a significant part of it. Therefore, Kern and her deputy (a former editor for The New York Times) wanted to run with a piece that covered the topic considerately.

When the Justice Department backed a lawsuit against Harvard University’s admissions practices, it was a story which every major publication would run, so the software of other companies did their thing via algorithms to choose the article they would use.

However, Kern and her team got together, read different versions of the coverage, and ultimately decided that the Washington Post’s account was the one to go with because it gave the best explanation of the situation while providing the most context.

“We put so much care and thought into our curation,” said Kern. “It’s seen by a lot of people and we take that responsibility really seriously.”

Kern also prioritizes accuracy over speed- the old “slow and steady wins the race”- which is perhaps another advantage humans have over machines.

Back in August when a 24-year-old gunman opened fire during a video-game competition in Jacksonville, Fla. killing two, headlines on Facebook, Google News, and Twitter led us to believe that the shooter detested President Trump — a dramatic point that was sure to get clicks and spread the story fast.

However, Kern did not want to run with that detail because, “After every shooting, there’s always a ‘this person is associated with a terror group’ and then it turns out not to be true.” And she ended up being correct, with the alleged hatred towards President Trump turning out false.

And this has been a staple of her and her team’s. If they don’t trust a story, they will not select it. And trust is not something that can be inserted into an algorithm. “I mean, you read a story and it doesn’t quite pass the smell test,” she said.

In addition, avoiding bias and staying objective is crucial to Apple, which is why they prioritize displaying views from both sides. But because every human has a tendency for prejudice, many turn to algorithms because they feel that they aren’t subject to it. However, Kern strongly disagrees with the notion that algorithms can’t be programmed to be biased, going on to claim that humans are the best way to avoid prejudice- even with all our biases.

“We’re so much more subtly following the news cycle and what’s important,” she said. “That’s really the only legitimate way to do it at this point.”

With how big Apple and its news app is, and the level of quality journalists they possess, one can only wonder if they will go into news themselves one day.

To read more about this, you can check it out on The New York Times here.

Here’s how people on the Zip app are weighing in on this all over the country!

What do you think of Apple’s new strategy to use humans over machines to pick headlines for Apple News?

61% It's cool
39% Won't work
58% It's cool
42% Won't work
68% It's cool
32% Won't work

It’s cool

Won’t work

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