Sunday, July 11, 2004

The polarization of news

This week's Media Myopia column points to the increasing polarization of news. People tend to trust and read news sources that agree with their political beliefs. The article notes that:
    Perceptions of "media credibility" - that is, whether people think a particular news outlet can be trusted - are now more driven by ideology and partisanship than at any point in nearly 20 years of surveys.
I would think that the best way to mitigate this issue would be to use a news aggregator like Google News or a personalized news aggregator like Findory News so you see your news from a large number of sources and viewpoints. But I was surprised to see the column cite the book to argue against personalized news:
    The Internet's ability to provide personalized news - to permit users to filter out those things they don't care about - [poses] a threat to democracy itself. Democracy depends in part on people's being exposed to information they would not necessarily have chosen for themselves. So, too, might the concept of gut rationality be endangered in a filtered world, where people see only what they want to see, hear only what they want to hear, read only what they want to read.
The author has a fundamental misunderstanding of the objective of personalized news. Personalized news does not seek to show a reader "only what they want to see." It does not pigeonhole a reader to one particular viewpoint. Rather, it helps the reader discover sources and articles that otherwise might have been missed.

While you may be a regular reader of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, a news website, or your local paper, even the biggest news junkie only reads a few sources every day. Using Findory News, you now have a window into thousands of news sources you don't normally see, different viewpoints, different perceptions, different analyses. Rather than limiting your perspective, personalized news broadens your view, helping you find articles you never would have discovered on your own.

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