Why Personalized News Can Be a Bad Thing

Rich Jaroslovsky, a journalist whose career has taken him from covering the White House for the Wall Street Journal to grappling with algorithms in the digital era, says that “excessive personalization is a rabbit hole.” As a newsman that started work in a traditional newspaper, he points to the dangers of a custom-made news feed, and how that would end up giving you tunnel vision. One of the pleasures of turning the pages of a print newspaper was discovering a new story, something you didn’t know. Now the Vice President for Content and Chief Journalist at SmartNews, a news aggregation site, Jaroslovsky also acts like a bridge between journalists and engineers, feeding data into algorithms that help determine the newsworthiness and interest ranking of news stories: “Those are all things that computers are really good at doing.”

 

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