What happened to the News?
A couple of days ago after reading the Boston Globe website for news I decided to take a look at what the BBC had on the homepage of its website. There in the center column was a story about Fukushima. And it occurred to me that I hadn’t heard anything about Japan for weeks. What happened, was everything suddenly ok? Well the news in that BBC story didn’t look great, so I went looking. Maybe it had been covered in the New York Times – nope. Google News? Not on the front page I saw.
What’s going on here? When Google News started, I really liked the fact that it was serving up important stories based on what was being reported in News sites around the world. Not only could I see the Washington Post perspective on a story, but maybe the Australian version too. Now based on my location I get the US edition. I also get limited to what’s being covered in the US where it’s what’s new that seems to count, not what’s important. Sure, I could switch to the UK or maybe even Canadian editions, but that’s not what I want either – that will just be trading our scandals and celebrities for someone else’s.
At a recent TED talk, Eli Pariser calls this phenomenon ‘filter bubbles’. I like the way he characterizes the need for balance as making sure you get your ‘news vegetables’ along with your ‘news dessert’.
I see one flaw in his suggestion that we need more control. Given the obesity epidemic in this country, can we really expect people to choose for themselves to get their news vegetables? After all, we do so well when it comes to eating our vegetables. So what do you think? Are we better off getting news tailored to our American sensibilities, or would you prefer to be exposed to opinions from the world-wide community.