Apple News is the poster child of the Pareto principle, which states that roughly 80% of effects come from 20% of the causes. In Apple’s case, 80% of news in its Top Stores and Trending sections come from 20% of sources (via CJR).
As of January 2019 Apple News had 85 million active readers. It’s great if you’re a fan of Big Media, like CNN, Fox News, People, The Washington Post, etc. It’s not great if you’re looking for newsrooms specific to your locale. A study was conducted to compare Apple’s two approaches to news curation, human and algorithms, and how they affect which media get the most attention.
We found that both sections selected articles from only a handful of sources. In the human-edited Top Stories section, ten news outlets (The Washington Post and CNN foremost among them) accounted for 55.7 percent of all articles, and in the algorithmic Trending section ten outlets (led by CNN, Fox News, and People) accounted for 74.8 percent of articles.
Apple says that the more you read, the better the app understands your interests. What the company doesn’t say is that it’s contributing to the decline of small, local newsrooms.
And, given the traffic boost enjoyed by those few sources, is it fair to smaller news organizations producing relevant content that often predates the stories produced by big newsrooms?