Apple revealed its upcoming News app at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) last week but didn’t say very much about it. Specifically, the company didn’t give any details regarding the curation of the news content that will be included in the app. Now a new job listing is filling in some of those details.
Apple seeks news editors
The job listing indicates that Apple intends to go beyond its initial plan of just using RSS feeds to populate its News app with content. Down the road, the company apparently plans to roll out tools for writers and editors to publish rich content specifically for Apple News. Of course the problem with this plan is that it requires more than a computer algorithm to pull news content into the app.
Apple describes the responsibilities for the news editing position as collecting “the best in breaking national, global, and local news.” The news editors will also work to build relationships with some of the top newsrooms in the world to make sure that “important breaking news stories are surfaced quickly, and enterprise journalism is rewarded with high visibility.”
What the listing says about Apple News
Having human editors at the helm of Apple News will give firmer control over how the news appears to readers. It will answer important questions like which content should be considered front page news and which stories can be placed lower. Editors can also decide on the presentation of different news categories and breaking news.
The job listing also states that the editors will be looking for stories from smaller platforms as well. Some will keep an eye on social media to see which breaking news stories are trending and “recognize and communicate key content trends to senior management.”
Apple goes beyond algorithms
Techmeme founder Gabe Rivera told 9to5 Mac that it makes sense for Apple to hire editors for its News app because all other news aggregators which target the mass market need editors. Computers are simply not as good as humans at reading between the lines and detecting the subtleties that make one story more important than another.
However, he also pointed out that there will likely be conflicts of interest if there is no separation of the business side of things with the editorial side. This is certainly something I experienced as a producer for TV news, as sometimes the sales department would attempt to influence the news director regarding which stories to cover or feature as top stories.
It’s a problem that probably plagues most newsrooms in the country, and at a company like Apple, it could become very serious if a series of checks and balances isn’t put in place. For example, any news which puts Apple in a negative light will probably be buried. And then there are the political issues that set conservative news outlets like Fox apart from liberal outlets like NBC.