The Local News Landscape is Broken: NewsQ Panel Review of Platform Products

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Written by Gabriel Kahn with Meredith Clark, Al Cross, Claudia Irizarry Aponte, Mandy Jenkins, David Kroman

Published: 30 November 2020

From the executive summary: “To address the challenge of improving the local journalism that appears in news feeds, the News Quality Initiative (NewsQ), which seeks to elevate news quality when algorithms rank and recommend news, convened a panel of journalists and media scholars to bring a critical eye to how platform news products are serving up local news. The panel’s aim was to identify specific areas where ranking and recommendation can be improved, and to articulate recommendations for both platforms and publishers.

The following report begins with an explanation of the dire situation that most local news publishers find themselves in. The report also clarifies the purpose of local journalism: to serve the needs of a local community. In light of this purpose, it outlines the current failures of news feeds based on the panel’s review of sampled results.

Based on the observations from the data as well as personal knowledge and experience, we urgently call for platform news products to actively repair the damage they have caused to the local news landscape. While we provide some ideas for quick fixes, deep changes are needed at the local community level. Given the time it will take to fix this system, action on those deeper questions is also needed immediately.”

Read the report here.