Six Colors
Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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Apple News will have editors, not just algorithms

9to5Mac’s Jordan Kahn caught a job posting on Apple’s website:

Apple’s job listing notes that News editors will be responsible for gathering “the best in breaking national, global, and local news.” They will also be working firsthand with publications to “drive relationships with some of the world’s leading newsrooms, ensuring that important breaking news stories are surfaced quickly, and enterprise journalism is rewarded with high visibility.” And Apple won’t just be curating stories from the big players. It also mentions a focus on surfacing original content from “the largest to the smallest” publishers. News editors will also track social media for breaking stories, according to the job listing, and “recognize and communicate key content trends to senior management.”

“Humans, not algorithms” was thematically a big part of Apple’s conversation about music curation during the WWDC keynote last week, so it’s not surprising that the company is taking a human approach to news as well. (The job posting appears to have been subsequently taken down.)

But what fascinates me here is the bigger message: that the most profitable and arguably most powerful technology company in the world firmly believes that technology alone simply isn’t good enough for these sorts of determinations. I don’t think it’s necessarily a view you’d hear espoused at the highest levels of Google, for example.

Much in the same way that people can tell when they’re looking at a computer-generated character in a movie–because something about it looks distinctly uncanny–I think most folks can also figure out when they’re listening to a computer-generated playlist. There’s an obviousness and predictability to it that you wouldn’t get if you just asked your best friend what music you should listen to.1

It’s nice to see Apple take that human approach to news curation, too. For one, it doesn’t make the writers and editors among us feel obviated by computer algorithms; for another, it does, as Apple’s post mentions, allow the ferreting out of smaller sources that might not otherwise get noticed.

Whether or not that will work as designed, and entice people away from their Flipboards, Google Newses, and so on, well, that’s a different matter.

  1. Apple Music: robot or not
—Linked by Dan Moren

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