When Tech Giants Deliver the News, They Decide What News Is

WIRED | Apple WWDC 2015
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SO ’S GOT its very own newsreader app, aptly called News. It will come natively installed on its iOS 9 mobile operating system this fall. This adds to the list of third parties that publishers have come to rely upon to distribute their stories. Apple says one of the most appealing things about News is stories will look and feel distinctive, as if they’re coming directly from publishers’ own sites, creating a sense of independent control over their own content.

And yet.

As with its Podcasts app, iTunes, and the App Store, News is Apple’s app, which means Apple is the ultimate arbiter of what appears on it. Shortly after announcing News, the company released a publishing guide. So far, it seems targeted largely at developers testing the app and figuring out how to publish on it ahead of its official release. But the guide does say “channels” will need to be approved by Apple, meaning Apple will determine to some extent what is or is not allowed on News.

And this matters at a time when a few prominent tech companies are becoming the stewards of the news millions of people see, read, watch, and experience each day. Social sites like Facebook and Twitter are the entry point for many readers checking the news daily—not to mention News. And each has its own standards for what it will and will not allow to appear. Now that Apple has committed to becoming a publisher, another tech giant will be mediating the news that the public consumes. This means the standards Apple chooses to follow will have a direct impact on what millions of readers see—or don’t see.

Open to All

Apple News will be open to both established news organizations and self-published bloggers, according to the publishing guide. At first glance, it appears anyone with an iCloud account will be able to create a publishing channel, though Apple has said little beyond Monday’s announcement about how the app will organize and present what likely will be a proliferation of user-generated content.

Read more: When Tech Giants Deliver the News, They Decide What News Is

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