This year many employees of the company “Apple” (Apple) have moved to a new headquarters in Cupertino (California) — in the gleaming glass building, which cost about five billion dollars. A mile West, in the old campus of the company located at infinity Loop 1 (1 Infinite Loop), is now working on a project, it is not consistent with the spirit of Silicon valley.
In a quiet corner on the third floor, the company equips something like the newsroom. A few nondescript offices is a former journalist, about ten people. They will do the work of many other technology companies for many years doing special programs — to select the news that will be read by tens of millions of people.
One morning in late August, the chief editor of the service “Apple news” (Apple News) Lauren Kern (Kern Lauren) caused his Deputy to discuss the five stories that will be posted first in the news in the news aggregator, launched the company three years ago and distributed as pre-installed app on every iPhone in the US, UK and Australia.
That day the top stories on national news sites were dedicated to the fact that the Ministry of justice has supported a lawsuit against Harvard University in connection with the violation of the principles of the equal opportunities policy. It was an important indicator of the significance of the information, says the Deputy Lauren Kern, a former editor of the newspaper “new York times” (the New York Times), whose name the company “Apple” was asked not to name for privacy reasons. They core quickly agreed that this is the main news of the day, and reading a few publications on this topic, chose an article from the Washington Post (The Washington Post) because, according to them, it was a more detailed background of the events and the substantiation of the significance of this news.
Other news, widely reported in the press, was associated with spores and attacks of a racial nature on the first day of the campaign on elections of the Governor of Florida. Lauren Kern and telling her assistant that they needed an article in which this subject would be lit with special tact, because the racial issue is very delicate. They chose an article from the “Miami Herald” (Miami Herald), which had a subtle approach to the problem and which was presented to the review, their content and the controversy about them.
Later they chose the video “si-CBS news” (CBS News) on the farewell ceremony for John McCain, the material of the sports blog “the nation” (SB Nation) about the duel of sisters Serena and Venus Williams at the U.S. Open and the article from “Bloomberg” (Bloomberg) on flights lasting 20 hours. According to Kern, her team is going to combine the top news of the day with materials more easy content and sometimes with longer articles about the investigations. Something like on the front pages of Newspapers. Basically, they chose materials from the provisional list, drawn up in the morning three editors in new York who studied the home pages and mobile alerts national news sites, as well as dozens of articles from news agencies.
“We are very attentive to issues such as collecting content, and carefully worked, says the 43-year-old Kern, a former chief editor of “new York magazine” (New York Magazine). — It is being viewed by many people, and we treat this work very seriously”.
The company “Apple” came into the complex world of news, creating a news service that is regularly used by about 90 million people. But if you “Google” “Facebook” and “Twitter” have attracted much attention because of their disproportionate — and often harmful — impact on the dissemination of information, the company Apple has avoided scandals. One of the main reasons is that, unlike similar companies from the Silicon valley in the title selection in the formation of the feed, she resorts not to the help of machines and algorithms, and people like Lauren Kern.
A former journalist, Kern has quietly become one of the most influential figures in the English media. Each of the news articles that she with his Deputy choose materials for news apps “Apple news”, which regularly scans more than a million people.
Their activity brings more confusion to the debate about whether Silicon valley giants media or technology companies. Company “Google”, “Facebook” and “Twitter” have long argued that they are technology companies, not by means of “spreading the truth”. The issues related to the classification of information where it is necessary to understand what information is falsified, and which are based on facts, CEO of Facebook mark Zuckerberg and other mainly rely on artificial intelligence. And the “Apple” boldly went in a different direction, selecting an approach, the predominant role of the man, showing that in technology companies acceptable methods of work, based on emotional perception, is more characteristic of mass media.
The strategy of Apple is quite risky. Although the company has long attracted people to collect content and its cataloging for their applications, work with the news involves addressing much more controversial issues. In this company, that she jealously guards its secrets, especially not apply and about who generates the news feed for apps “Apple news” and how these people try to avoid bias.
For the first time in recent years — and after extensive negotiation of the terms of participation in an interview, the company agreed to tell the journalist “new York times” about how they organize the application of “Apple news”.
For this product the company has ambitious plans. Apple allows publishers to place ads in your app, and because of this some of them attract new subscribers, in exchange for 30% of revenues. According to people familiar with the company’s plans who spoke to us on condition of anonymity because was not authorized to speak publicly in the near future the company plans to integrate access to dozens of journals in your app for a fixed monthly fee (much like a at Netflix/Netflix). According to our interlocutors, the “Apple” expects to include in the package access to some of the daily news publications such as “new York times,” “Washington Post” and “wall street Journal” (The Wall Street Journal).
The management of the company is crowing about its desire to help save journalism. “There is a deep understanding that a thriving free press is crucial for informed public and an informed public is critical to a functioning democracy, and that a role could be “Apple news”,” says Kern.
But the early signs are that Apple will not be able to save the industry. Many publishers in the advertising in the app “Apple news” did not earn, and those 30% that the company takes no special role to play. As follows from the talks with the representatives of the nine news organisations, many of whom refused to speak on the record out of fear to displease the leaders of the Corporation cost a trillion dollars, many publishers, having experienced the consequences of the destructive activities of the companies “Google” and “Facebook” are “Apple” with suspicion. Some of them expressed confidence that Apple can become the best partner than other tech giants, but would not dare to make a company’s application portal for its readers.
“What Apple giveth, Apple can take away,” says bill Grueskin (Bill Grueskin), Professor of journalism at Columbia University and former editor of the “wall street Journal”, “Bloomberg” and other publications. Once readers learn to get the news from Apple, he says, the news Agency will understand: “You are in the power of an Apple”.
“The crowd just got”
For many decades among those media that supported the very direct relationship with consumers, was the newspaper. Large-format and small-format Newspapers and tabloids reported the news, printed them and delivered to your door.
Then came the Internet, and intermediaries between publishers and their readers began to “Google” and “Facebook”, using his position to dominate digital advertising and destroy the advertising business model, according to which the work of the newspaper.
The growth of the companies “Google” and “Facebook” in the news distribution was partly due to the use of machine algorithms that guarantee a huge scale, allowing these companies to send their billions of users millions of articles from thousands of sources. These algorithms were mainly designed in order to maintain the interest of users and make them constantly clicking links. That is, they are usually promoted posts, which forced users to click to go to link and disseminate information, and that often means that it contains something sensational. This contributed to increasing interest in radical and ideologically oriented, biased websites created deliberately misleading, inaccurate, extremely biased, or obviously false content.
(According to the press-Secretary of “the Google”, the company aims to avoid misinformation. For this she perform a preliminary screening of the publishers and only then publishes the application “Google news”. She added that this year the company started to help news organizations to sell subscriptions. He says the company helps publishers to expand audience reach, earn from advertising and selling subscriptions. According to her, the machinery of the algorithm used by Facebook, recently reduced the visibility of pages with a click-narukami).
In this information environment and came Apple. At the end of 2015 the manufacturer of iPhones has released a free news app to “connect” users with the publications they like. People chose the range of his interests and favorite publications, and the application offered them a news feed in the appropriate direction.
The announcement of the application of fanfare is not caused. Three months later, Apple announced an unusual new feature: a selection of the main news applications will not deal with algorithms, and people.
After the presidential election of 2016, Americans learned that the biased trolls and the Russian agents to use “Facebook”, “Twitter” and “YouTube” for distribution among voters of materials aimed at the intensification of contradictions in society, using machine algorithms of these platforms. The revelations have drawn attention to the influence of these companies on media and society in General. To better control their websites, the management of these companies promised to increase the number of staff and number of machine algorithms.
Guide Apple stated that it remains convinced that the formation of news feeds to attract the best people.
“We are responsible for the content, says Roger Rosner (Roger Rosner), who heads the company’s Department of applications and head of Lauren Kern, referring to the app “Apple news””. We are just not going to turn it into a conglomeration of all that I got”.
Dismiss news “tainted”
To create the newsroom of the company “Apple” was necessary to journalists. Starting in 2015, she poached editors from different publications — including the “new York times”, “wall street Journal”, “si-EN-EN” and “Bleacher report” (Bleacher Report). And for the post of team leader company agent recruitment found Lauren Kern, a rising star in the journalistic world of new York.
Lauren Kern, who was born in Ardmore, Oklahoma, the family lawyer, who later became a Federal judge and a former journalist of “the daily Ardmoreite” (Daily Ardmoreite). She began her journalistic career in 1996 in the weekly alternative newspaper “the Houston Press” (The Houston Press), when he studied at rice University. In 2004, she took the post of editor for “new York magazine”.
“People usually do “set” there, and she had, says Adam moss (Adam Moss), the chief editor of the magazine “new York magazine”, referring to the ability of Lauren Kern to understand the news, how she responds to the news material in General and its attitude to work, diligence.
In 2010 moved to the “new York times” Deputy editor. Four years later, moss lured her back to “new York magazine” for the post of chief editor. In this role she led the publication of the journal resonance materials about women accusing bill Cosby (Bill Cosby) of rape, and edited articles about the CEO of the news channel “Fox news” (Fox News) Roger Ailsa (Roger Ailes) and his sexual harassment.
In the past year, says moss, Lauren Kern came to his office and said that she was offered a job with Apple.
“I asked her: “Why is it you need?”, recalls moss. With the literary experience and creative skills that have Lauren, the transition to the company which actually play a major role and everything is decided by the engineers certainly would lead to a huge disappointment.”
According to Kern, it was an opportunity to help journalism from the other side. The transition into a technology company meant also the increase in wages — but for how long, she said. She moved from Brooklyn to one of the most expensive areas of Silicon valley, where she for the first time in 13 years bought a car, a Golden Retriever named Leo for his son and spacious house with a chicken coop in the backyard (to make the chickens she plans to).
During our conversations, Lauren Kern was acting casual, but still business-like. Friends and former colleagues say that she gives all of herself to two things — my son and work.
“She mind — head. In most places where I work, journalists — bad bosses, says Noreen Malone (Noreen Malone), her former colleague at the “new York magazine”. — It was always clear that Lauren will be something to manage”.
Now under the leadership of Kern employs approximately 30 former journalists in Sydney, London, new York and Silicon valley. They spend all day reading news on the Internet, taking a daily 100-200 publications from materials published by publishers, and discussing what materials will be the main.
Finally, they choose five articles and news reports, which are major in the news app, and two main articles are also displayed in the selected window to the left on the home screen of the iPhone. They also collect the content a “magazine” section, which publishes feature articles and essays. Selection of materials usually changes five times a day and more often depending on the news. As a rule, the first set of the morning news for the East coast prepares one editor working in London, and then to connect the work of the editors in new York, and in Cupertino.
According to Kern, it is important not so much speed, how much the accuracy. When in August the competition of video games in Jacksonville, Florida, 24-year-old shooter killed two people, titles in “Google news”, Facebook and Twitter were full of reports that the shooter hated President trump is a sensational detail that triggered clicks and helped spread the news.
And in “Apple news” in the “allocated” reports about this incident but this detail was not mentioned. Kern asked its employees to exercise particular caution in relation to the message that appears immediately after mass shootings. “After every shooting incident is always reported that, “this man associated with a terrorist group”, and then it turns out that’s not true,” she says. She was right — after a few days it became clear that messages of hate murderers to President Trump untrue.
Because of this approach to coverage of events in the application “Apple news” in December appeared a sensational report “Hey-bi-si a news” (ABC News) on the Robert Mueller investigation of the relations of the electoral headquarters of the trump of Russia. In the report it was alleged that the former national security Advisor, Michael Flynn was ready to testify that during the election campaign of 2016, trump instructed him to establish contacts with representatives of the Russian authorities. This news instantly spread via the Internet, which greatly contributed to “Google” “Facebook” and “Twitter” and then “Hey-bi-si a news” acknowledged its failure.
According to Kern, she and her team have not published this report because they do not trust the information. Why? She says that it is not determined by the template is not a formula that can be embedded into the algorithm.
“I mean that you read the material, and feels that she is “tainted”,” she explains.
Lauren Kern says “Apple news” also seeks to acquaint readers with the views of both parties involved in the political debate. When, in June, Apple presented a special section on the mid-term elections, the company stressed that “Fox news”” and “VOX” (Vox) are (her) partners. The company stated that among users of “Apple news” the number of those who traditionally read the publication the right and left direction, is practically the same.
However, when the formation of news feeds people are doing, there is a possibility of bias — or at least accusations of bias. Politicians and experts from a number of conservatives, including Donald trump, in recent years, criticized “Google”, “Twitter” and “Facebook”, accusing them of silencing the views of the representatives of the right wing. Companies are trying to stave off criticism by giving the job of selecting the materials at the mercy of machine algorithms.
In the 2014 year Facebook hired people to chosen “trending topics” that the system allocates to your web site. But in 2016, former employees said, about bias, about liberal bias. Three months later, the company laid off editors, “entrusting” it to machines.
Kern critical of the claims that the use of machine algorithms are the only way to avoid bias, because bias can be “embedded” in the machine program, for example, to tagged news organizations as liberal or conservative. According to her, people — with all their biased, preconceived notions — the only way to avoid bias.
“We are much more subtly follow the news cycle and what is important she says. — At the moment this is really the only reasonable and legitimate method to do this work”.
Not all the materials published in “Apple news”, are selected manually. Engine algorithms continue to choose materials based on new sources or topics that are of interest to users — for example, sports, cars or entertainment. The algorithms also choose five significant “trend” materials, which are followed by those of the main messages that choose the core with colleagues. These materials are generally dedicated to Donald Trump or celebrities. In the list of such materials on the second of October — the title of People magazine (People): “Kate Middleton’s back from paternity leave — with a new haircut and old boots!”.
To help publishers succeed
The management of “Apple” is convinced that “Apple news” is not only cure diseases related to how people consume news in the Internet era, but also a lifeline for journalism and democracy.
“From the beginning, Tim said that our duty is to help the media, says Rosner, referring to CEO Timothy cook. Is the basis of democracy.”
In the “real” newsrooms are skeptical about the ability of technology giant to save the industry.
The leaders of nine news organizations have stated that they hope that “Apple news” will be able to help business development, but to bet on the aggregator fear. The representatives of the major news sites said that “Apple news” quickly became an important source of traffic, in some cases, surpassing Facebook, which this year changed its native algorithm to reduce the visibility of publishers, and the number of referrals decreased dramatically.
Daniel khalaq (Daniel Hallac), chief Director of product magazine “new York magazine”, said that since December the traffic with “Apple news” has doubled, and now account for almost 12% of visits to the web site of the journal. Traffic from Facebook has fallen by about a third, to 8% of the visits, and share Google has slightly increased and approximately half of the site traffic. “I am optimistic about the “Apple news”,” he says.
But in exchange for this traffic publishers are left with far from ideal conditions, which makes “the Apple”. Readers of “Apple news” usually remain in the application “Apple”, because of which the amount of data that news organizations pluchayut about them, restricted, and reduced revenues from advertising. As reported in last month’s edition of “slate” (Slate), the number of their readers “Apple news” grew over last year by about three times, but on 50 thousand hits on its website it is on average earned more money than six million hits on average per month in “Apple news”.
Eddy cue, senior Vice President of Apple, who oversees the promotion of its services, says that along with its publications, publishers can run on “Apple news” your own ads and keep all the profits. “It is very rare,” he says. According to him, this opportunity is used by most major publishers. In addition, Apple publishes advertising for publishers is 30% cheaper.
However, news agencies say that to sell ads on “Apple news” quite difficult, and that the interest of advertisers is limited due to the lack of data about customers. “Slate” also explains their problems meager income from advertising, hosted Apple. The company “Apple” has recently simplified the procedure for placing a publishers own advertising, but q admits that “Apple” is not too strong (or not too interested) in advertising.
Another potential problem is that “Apple news” helps mainly to a small circle of publishers. In July, the largest newspaper in Florida, “Tampa Bay times” (Tampa Bay Times), received 79% of their external web traffic from Google and 20% from Facebook, says Gallati Conan (Conan Gallaty), the Director of a publication on digital technologies. The share of Apple accounted for just 1%, he says.
“Of the three major companies — Facebook, Google and Apple — in cooperation with regional and local publishers “Apple” keeps them from really large distance,” he says.
Lauren Kern says that aims its employees to ensure that they chose news from local publications, “whenever there is a local news that is of interest to the whole country.” According to her, the “Apple news” was used for materials, published in the Sacramento Bee (The Sacramento Bee), when covering the topic of forest fires in California. And from the newspaper “Kansas city Star” (Kansas City Star) was taken by an article about the case of pleasure boat that sank in the Missouri. But in most cases, Apple publishes news using publications in national journals.
According to eddy cue, the company “Apple” is more interested in helping publishers sell subscriptions. In the application “Apple news” users can now sign up with one touch of a finger using credit cards that many owners of iPhones pre-loaded.
But there are problems. Apple takes a 30 percent cut of revenues from subscriptions in the first year and 15% each subsequent year. Google takes 5%, and Facebook offers this service free of charge. In addition, Apple has a policy of confidentiality, unlike “Google” and “Facebook” in refusing to transfer to third parties even e-mail addresses of subscribers.
Given these conditions, some heads of news agencies stated that “Apple news” can kannibalisierung future subscribers, leaving news organizations with less income and less detailed information about each customer.
According to eddy cue, Apple basically “wins” customers, who otherwise would not have done, and that its share of the income “relatively “small,” and part of it goes to compensation expenses. “This especially did not earn,” he says.
In April, Apple bought the service of electronic subscription Texture, allowing for $ 10 per month to get access to 200 journals. According to people familiar with the plans of the company, now Apple plans to include service in “Apple news” that will dramatically expand coverage.
Given the ambitions of Apple and growing team of former journalists, whether it will start to produce news, not just aggregate them?
“We’re not talking about future plans, but we certainly are not going to do,” says Rosner.
So after all there is such a possibility?
“How do you know?” he says.
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