Filters, the Other Fake News, and Not News: this week on Fresh Powder

The More You Know

We all know that our internet search history follows us (sometimes it’s downright creepy, actually). But it turns out that a majority of students might not be aware of news personalization. That is, the way Facebook, Google and other sites filter stories based on interaction. That’s problematic, because it also means they might be unaware of the ramifications of news filtering. And if they don’t know they’re not getting all the news, they can’t objectively consume the news, even if they wanted to. One positive about all this is that it’s teachable, and a valuable topic, especially as we train tomorrow’s journalists.

Not the News

Satire is the OG fake news. That is, it’s fake for the sake of making fun, and it’s been around a long time. But now, real fake news (yes, it felt weird to write that sentence), like, fake-for-profit, is a real problem. So how do we navigate the difference between headlines that are meant to be a joke and the ones that are just straight up fake? The Borowitz Report, the New Yorker’s column of news-based satire, has gone so far as to label its content “not the news.” In spite of the blatant labeling, many people still take Borowitz headlines as serious news. A simple lesson: pay attention. You’ll likely get all the answers you need just by actually reading an article before sharing it. And it’s a good reminder: practice conscientious sharing. Because satire isn’t going away, and fake news isn’t either, and nobody wants to be the guy who doesn’t get the joke.

Also Not the News

Amal Clooney is a big time human rights lawyer, and last week she made a speech to the U.N. about addressing the atrocities of ISIS. But she’s also pregnant, and Time magazine weighted the two facts, Clooney’s speech and her stylish baby bump, equally. So, they were lambasted by a jury of their peers. Rightly so. Time is, purportedly, a serious news org, and it’s completely maddening that a woman’s maternity style means anything at all, especially in an article about a U.N. speech. But Time published the story in Motto, their millennial-targeted lifestyle section. So, cool then? Not really. But it is illustrative of the wobbly newsphere that currently exists, and really, with a reality star for a president, real news and celebrity gossip are actually the same thing, sometimes. Eek.

Audience Engagement

The New Yorker is experiencing a surge of interest in spite of a couple-years-old paywall. It’s kind of the opposite of what anyone would have expected, but the mag is attracting new readers, younger readers, and, most importantly, readers who are likely to subscribe. How? They’re giving readers what they want. Lots of readers came to the New Yorker due to the election, and now they’re using very specific measures to market to their audience. They’re making strategic choices about subscription offers, and intentionally creating the kind of content their readers interact with. Very cool, and lucrative (and totally doable. Hint: analytics.)

This also happened last week: Well, he won’t win, but it’s impossible not to smile at this little pupper and his agility show fail. This guy had a bad day (actually, everyone on that plane probably did…). And lest you take yourself too seriously, here’s a reminder that you can always, always be checked by children.