There's not always an app for that

When Apple posted a job listing recently calling for editors for its recently announced news app, it's fair to say it raised a few eyebrows. The internet giant with an app for everything has conceded that humans might have their uses, but why?

Apple has conceded that humans might have their uses, but why? asks Ian Hood
Apple has conceded that humans might have their uses, but why? asks Ian Hood
There are already a number of news aggregators out there, including those from the likes of Google and Facebook. Both of these companies use algorithms alone to power their news services, so why is Apple straying from this tried and tested path? 

With just shy of 100,000 employees as of 2014, Apple has the resources at its fingertips to create all singing, all dancing software to curate news, so why bother to employ editors? 

I am as sceptical as the next person when it comes to the intentions of the Googles and Facebooks of the world but I have to admit that Apple really seems to have hit on something with their approach to Apple News.

Technology is developing at an astronomical rate but while I will admit that there are machines that can do a much better job of driving my car than me, I can’t say the same about understanding why a news article is interesting. 

PRs know better than anyone that the news is dictated by what the public is hungry for. An editor with years of experience has far better insight into the news that is relevant to their audience, than any machine. 

The concept is pretty simple, but if they get it right, this has the potential to make Apple News stand head and shoulders above other news aggregators, by communicating to the public the news that they want to hear. 

However, as I begin to voice my enthusiasm for the concept the cynic in me bubbles to the surface. How do we account for the journalistic integrity of the new Apple editors? 

Is the use of veteran news editors really to ensure top notch content? Or, in reality, will they be made to swear a vow of allegiance to Tim Cook before presenting a warped view of the world through Apple tinted glasses? 

My hope is that this move stems from understanding the value of expertise. 

When communicating news, knowing what makes people tick is vital and humans beat machines hands down. My fear is that the intentions behind Apple’s latest venture are not so well meaning. 

There is no doubt about it; the proof will be in the pudding. 

No matter what big companies think about ‘the unwashed masses’ one thing is certain: the public isn’t stupid.  

A news service that lives to serve a corporation - even if it already inhabits almost every area of our lives, from phones to music to photos - will not have any credibility. 

Now, where is my iPhone…

Ian Hood is managing director at Babel PR 

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