The most critical and advanced users of journalistic information contrast different information sources, and news aggregators combine information from different reliable sources on a single home screen. The most advanced ones usually combine the possibility that we establish preferences and filters, and an algorithm that recommends relevant articles based on factors such as our interests, general news and our location.
18% of adult Internet users in Spain use an aggregator to access digital news throughout the week, and for 10% these services are the main way they come into contact with the news, according to the Digital News Report. Spain 2022 from the University of Navarra with the University of Oxford.
22% consult five or more media throughout the week.
Is there room for new platforms that help to carry a varied informative diet?
Google News and Discover vs. Upday, Flipboard and others
Artifact is a new news feed aggregation service powered by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, the two creators of Instagram.
Other services that we can currently find in the Spanish market under the category of aggregators are Upday (4% of weekly users), by Axel Springer, which hosts content selected by its editors; or the veteran Flipboard, with 2% of users each week, slightly above equivalent services such as News Republic, Feedly or the veteran Wiggle me.
Two Google services deserve special mention. After closing in 2014, Google News returned to Spain a little less than a year ago, as legislation favored a new relationship with media companies.
For their part, practically one in five users used Discover weekly to access current information at the beginning of 2022, although a large volume of participants had difficulties distinguishing it from Google News, months before it was relaunched in our market.
In terms of democratic health, Google Discover’s selection of user-relevant content (not just news, but also more timeless content, including YouTube videos) can relegate news on issues of public interest, but, at the same time, puts contact with the media to users traditionally somewhat further removed from the news, such as young people or people with a lower level of income or formal education. Discover enjoys, in all these segments, an above-average popularity.
Artifact, the last to arrive, still has a lot to learn
Is Artifact competitive against other aggregators for users outside of the US? Although it was opened to everyone at the end of February, currently, this application available on iOS and Android is only designed for English-speaking users: the interests and topics that it allows to select when opening it for the first time are focused on the US market, and the contents are exclusively from English sources. It has been highlighted that it is based on artificial intelligence, and this requires training and adaptation to the different circumstances of consumption.
The process of attracting users is less intuitive than that of a app equivalent, Microsoft Start, another news aggregator that, in a similar way, encourages us to select topics of interest when we use it for the first time, but it does so with a much more graphic, intuitive and friendly presentation, and in Spanish.
Artifact also allows you to tell which media outlets you subscribe to, so that you are especially aware of information from those news brands, but again, it only offers to choose from large outlets that publish in English. Other functions, such as suggestions based on what our contacts read, require a critical mass of acquaintances who use the service.
It has made fortune to call Artifact the “TikTok of the news”, taking advantage of the popularity of the controversial app of viral videos. What Artifact has most similar to TikTok is the recommendation by algorithm based on what you consume and what users like you like, but much more successful and consolidated platforms such as Google Discover are also based on this, which, in addition, knows better to the user because, if it is allowed, it collects more usage data, as it can be based on other services of the giant Alphabet.
For an aggregator, the process of identifying and choosing sources on which the personalized selection of news that it then presents to the user is based is important. Even more: it is crucial if you want to present the service as a tool against disinformation.
In the case of Artifact, they have this work pending with media that are relevant to Spanish-speaking audiences or that want to be informed of what is happening in their own territory, city or country.
Samuel Negredo, Professor of Journalism, university of Navarra
This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original.
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