Seasons change. Times change. Change seems to be the one constant in humanity. Sooner or later, everything changes. Do you remember back to a simpler time when news sources did not number in the tens of millions?
Change is to blame for the status of news in the 21st century. We have more news sources than ever before in human history and the number is growing.
Who is to blame for this sea change and its impact on society? Apple.
Apple? What did Apple do? While it’s true that Apple did not invent the internet, from iMac to iPhone, to iPad, Apple has helped to grow personal access to the internet, and that has caused many billions of people to require ever more sources of information, and many millions of content generators– for better or worse– to oblige that hunger.
Much of my daily news in recent years came from a handful of respected news apps. The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, a few respected magazines, local newspaper and TV apps, and, well, the number might be a dozen or so.
Yet, what app do I use the most now? Apple News. $9.99 a month gets me access to hundreds of news and information sources. That means fewer apps, which means fewer direct sources.
This week I saw a news story about Smart News; a free iPhone and iPad app I have used because the interface is drop-dead simple and elegant, and it has many news sources, and most importantly, local news based upon your location.
SmartNews is a startup that has gathered $182-million in funding and valuation to date in excess of $1.2-billion. Think about that. News is free. News is everywhere. If anything, we have too much news and simply cannot digest it all; even curating the news takes effort and generates pain.
Apple wants to save the news and information industry– newspapers and magazines– with a subscription app that appeals to the company’s 1-billion customers. How’s that working out?
Most publishers complain that there just isn’t enough money in Apple News to make it worth their efforts, but that’s a problem in general. News and information institutions we once knew and loved are dying; if not dying, changing, and not necessarily for the better.
Fragmentation is the order of the day, and we can lay some of the blame on Apple because the Cupertino company led humanity’s way onto the information superhighway without understanding that too much of anything becomes evil and what we have is easy access to a misinformation superhighway.
Apple News aims to curate some of the mess and I subscribe because, 1) I need help to curate news sources and information outlets, and 2) I want to help legitimate publishers stay in business even as the entire industry is being diluted in importance, stature, and capability by mass fragmentation.
Yes, our favorite Mac maker shares responsibility for this massive upheaval in society, but Apple News is not a fix.