Commentary

Apple News Adds No Value To 2020 Political Coverage

Apple Inc. yesterday introduced a section in its News app dedicated to the U.S. presidential election, as it has done in the past. The curated selection of content from other sources doesn't add any value to its reporting, which is still mostly derived from the same media outlets that bungled the 2016 election.

Apple News aggregates outlets like ABC News, CBS News, CNN, NBC News, ProPublica, Reuters, Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Time and USA Today.

Fox News stands out as one of the few conservative news sources on Apple News, which can't ignore a network that consistently ranks No. 1 in cable TV ratings and Facebook traffic.

Apple News also will show polling data from FiveThirtyEight, which is owned by Disney's ABC News and has a spotty record for accurate predictions. It gave Hillary Clinton a 71% chance of winning on Election Day in 2016, marring a record of solidly accurate predictions in 2008 and 2012.

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FiveThirtyEight  currently gives former Vice President Joe Biden a 43% chance of winning the Democratic primary, better than anyone else in the field. That looks like a safe bet so far, consistent with other surveys aggregated by RealClearPolitics.

Outside of its section on the 2020 election, it's unclear how Apple News chooses the news that people see.

Opening the app, it shows me stories that I don't care about, like a shooting on a Greyhound bus in California. I can't think of a story more removed from what I typically read.

The lead story in my "For You" section — based on topics and channels I read — is from The Washington Postwith the headline: "An aspiring rapper sought fame and fortune. So he had a hit man kill his mom to inherit her savings, prosecutors say."

Another useless story, giving me one less reason to open the Apple News app. Still, it's not easy to ignore the Apple News app, considering that it comes preinstalled on hundreds of millions of its devices.

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