Apple News Says Its Midterm Elections Section Is More Trustworthy Because It’s Run by Humans

Mathew Ingram, Columbia Journalism Review:

Apple launched a special section of its News app on Monday dedicated to the upcoming midterm elections, a section it said will be filled with stories and features curated by Apple News editors from “trusted publishers.” And while the name Facebook didn’t appear anywhere in the company’s press release, the description of the new section seemed like one long subtweet of the social network.

While Facebook continues to try to overcome a reputation for misinformation—especially the kind distributed by Russian trolls—and fights with publishers about lumping their news stories in with political advertising, Apple makes a point of noting that its stories are curated by human beings, and that it has solid relationships with leading news publishers. […]

The skeptical and cynical counterpoint that I’ve seen repeated on Twitter today is that humans are fallible and have their own biases. No shit. But I don’t think Apple’s promotion of this is entirely marketing bluster. There’s a reason human editors still work in newsrooms and decide what’s most worthy to appear on the front page, no matter whether that’s the homepage of their website or A1 — what is most popular can be important, but it’s their job to decide what is most newsworthy, and that’s often not the same thing.

Maybe Apple’s human editors will accidentally place something of little value in the midterm section; they may even promote a story that is later revealed to have critical mistakes. But they are less likely to surface something simply because of its virality without accounting for its news value.