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Study finds Apple News gives preference to major news outlets

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A new study has found that as far as the news sources that Apple chooses to promote on Apple News go, diversity is definitely not the name of the game.

According to the Columbia Journalism Review, Apple News (with almost 85 million users) nearly always gives preference to national outlets and major publishers.

In fact, their stories are promoted even when they are merely based on news covered earlier by loca, original sources.

The study also found that unless they follow Apple’s ‘proprietary format’, even backlinks are nowhere to be found in Apple News.



According to the report, the Tow Center for Digital Journalism in 2018 carried out a two-month study of the Top Stories section’s aggregators.

This section, which is curated by staff members, takes centre stage in Apple News.

They also examined Trending Stories, the section that after Top Stories gets the most attention and that is sorted by a computer algorithm.

What they discovered is that here also, Apple clearly pushes a handful of major news outlets.

In the Top Stories section, CNN, the Washington Post and eight other news outlets accounted for 55.7% of all news stories.

In the Trending section, Fox News, CNN, People and seven other news outlets accounted for no less than 74.8% of all news reports.

Strangely enough, despite it being rated so highly in the Trending section, Fox News has a very low profile in the Top Stories section.

Trending Stories often deals with news about Donald Trump and other celebrities, while Top Stories concentrates more on political matters, including global news, immigration and healthcare.

According to the researchers, “Both sections roughly follow the Pareto principle, where the top 20 percent of sources account for about 80 percent of articles.”

The bottom line is that Apple seems to be following a ‘don’t rock the boat’ policy with Apple News, promoting well-known sources and content for which users have already expressed a preference.

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  • It sounds like Apple are doing the same as others in the aggregation news business. In order to reduce the possibility of fake news they are applying a truth or reliability rating.
    Under such Reuters and Bloomberg are at the top, CNN (despite what Trump says) and major dailies come next and so on.
    Fox less well may be because they do give more air time to some sources with proven legal cases against them rather thany left / right wing bias.

    This approach gets rid of many unreliable sources and therefore unreliable articles but, unfortunately, disadvantages smaller sources which whilst not having a negative score not do they have a significant positive score.