What’s really new in the news?

A graph from Marcelo's dashboard tool with a surprise score in relation to poverty

Marcelo Rinesi recently released a dashboard tool dubbed “What’s New in News“: it discovers articles that are less read and potentially more “surprising”. Marcelo lets it collect data from articles with past popularity and weeds out news everyone is reading already anyway.

Thanks to the powerful API of the New York Times, Marcelo’s tool focuses on articles from the Old Grey Lady and its forever poignant slogan of “All the News That’s Fit to Print”.

One question that is addressed less often is that of the “surprising”. Not what’s being written or read about the most, or by the largest number of people, but rather what’s being written about more often than statistically expected given the way it had been talked about in the past.

– via Marcelo Rinesi’s Blog

I really like the idea of content discovery beyond the fear machine or uniform news everybody is reading. It’s the toxic algorithms of tech and those who abuse and use them, chase their attention tail with misinformed click bait and cater to our social like ego that keep us locked into thought silos.

I dug up a text from my master thesis and might have to reconsider some findings when it comes to news as a commodity and its relation to relevance: An old saying, old news is no news still holds ground, despite communication scholars concerns with a definition of news and less with the question of what is not news (Ginneken, 1998, pp. 22). Information that is news poses the question of time dependence and subsequent relation to the economics of news as a commodity. Viewing news is an experience, once read, its novelty wears off. And knowing too much about information beforehand reduces the desire to experience it, whereas higher information uncertainty increases the chance of purchasing it in the first place. Strategies for buying into news information are genres, reputation, and branding.

Ginneken, J. v. (1998). Understanding Global News. London: Sage.

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