Issue 13. February 2018

design & news

A paper delivered in the morning; the caffeinated chattiness of the Morning Show; local news hour in the morning, afternoon, evening and night; news radio 24/7; the buzz of phones trumpeting “breaking news” throughout the day; and our social identity announced in shared headlines and defined through our reactions to them. News is an obsession that has permeated the rhythm of our daily lives. We desperately look to news to inform us, but to inform us of what exactly and to what ends?

In this time when we are all painfully aware of “fake news”, do we even truly understand the criteria for what constitutes “real news”? Is it the subjective opinions of worthy people or objective notions of truth and facts? As judged by whom?

And with our constitution protecting the press as “one of the great bulwarks of liberty”, who is evaluating whether the outcome successfully lives up to its promise?

All journalism, then, begins and ends with ideas about good and evil. The planet getting hotter isn’t news because it’s fact. The planet getting hotter is news because that’s a bad thing.

Rob Wijnberg, de Correspondent, 2018

It is difficult / to get the news from poems / yet men die miserably every day / for lack / of what is found there.

William Carlos Williams, Asphodel, That Greeny Flower, 1955


The moment is here for recognizing that the commercial news medium does not adequately meet the needs of democratic citizenship.

Edward A. Ross, The Suppression of Important News, 1912

Professional journalism is younger than professional baseball and psychoanalysis. While the term journalism emerged in the early 19th century, it established professional codes, education, and associations only in the early 20th century. The first school of journalism in the United States, for example, was established at the University of Missouri in 1908.

Why the history of news explains its future, The Conversation, 2016

This quality is problematic for social media right now because of an enormous amount of content is generated by people who are trying to manipulate the platforms, especially through bots that automatically ‘like’ or ‘share’ stories.

Nsikan Akpan, Everyone is too distracted to stop sharing fake news, PBS News Hour, 2017

system goals

Eventually, I came to the conclusion that a better way to ‘do’ ideas about the press was to interest the press in the germ of an idea: that journalism's purpose was to see the public into fuller existence. Informing people followed from that.

Jay Rosen, What Are Journalists For?, 1999

The consumption of news is irrelevant to you. But people find it very difficult to recognise what's relevant. It's much easier to recognise what's new. The relevant versus the new is the fundamental battle of the current age.

Rolf Dobelli, News is bad for you, The Guardian, 2013

Facebook is now the most powerful publisher in the business, the mother of all media gatekeepers. Initially, that realization dawned on everybody except apparently Facebook itself, perhaps a willed state of ignorance. The company described its product as a mere “tool,” and protested that it played no role in organizing the news that it broadcasts, as if it weren’t imposing its values on the News Feed, as if it weren’t providing a sense of hierarchy to the mass of posts it splays.

Franklin Foer, Facebook Finally Blinks, The Atlantic, 2018

systemic failure

Calmly outlining a deeply unsettling projection about the next two decades of fake news, artificial intelligence–assisted misinformation campaigns, and propaganda. ‘We are so screwed it's beyond what most of us can imagine,’ Aviv Ovadya said. ‘We were utterly screwed a year and a half ago and we're even more screwed now. And depending how far you look into the future it just gets worse.’

The Terrifying Future of Fake News, BuzzFeed, 2018

Being online is really bad, and the way we interact with information on the web is a type of sickness unique to this moment in time. The news, as filtered through Twitter or Nuzzel or LinkedIn, comes in incremental microbursts, so instead of looking at aggregate events over time, we react to each bit of micro-news as if it is the worst thing that has ever happened. And since our president is likely on industrial-strength amphetamines, we exist online at his peril.

Leah Finnegan, The internet is making me sick, 2017

Melissa Zimdars has made a list of more than a hundred problematic news sites, along with tips for sorting the truthful from the troublesome. She talks with Brooke about how to be a savvy news consumer in a misinformation-filled world.[podcast]

Breaking News Consumer's Handbook: Fake News Edition, On The Media, 2016


The increasing pollution of our news environments, which is I think is what is going on, is creating a situation where there is an opportunity for quality news brands or brands that have something to say to actually charge either directly or through a creative approach to advertising in the marketplace.

Emilie Kodjo, The future of journalism is not all doom and gloom, GEN, 2017

ProPublica, a nonprofit investigative journalism organization, welcomes engagement. Where most investigative journalists zealously guard the secrecy of their projects in fear of getting scooped by a competitor, ProPublica’s journalists set up crowdsourcing forms that inform its investigative reporting on specific topics such as Agent Orange. After a story is published, its journalists respond to questions about the accuracy and story premise by publishing follow-ups.

Future of Journalism, The Aspen Institute, 2016

A handful of celebrity journalists are betting their careers on the new model’s sustainability and commitment to quality. The departure of high-brand reporters Nate Silver, Glenn Greenwald and Ezra Klein and editors Jim Roberts and Bill Keller from major legacy newsrooms to all-digital startups—widely and woefully reported by the very media organizations they were leaving behind—triggered a ripple effect across the industry, creating a zeitgeist of optimism that genuine change had arrived to transform a moribund profession.

Dianne Lynch, News faces and a new frontier, The Knight Foundation, 2015

You can use Gobo to control what’s edited out of your feed, or configure it to include news and points of view from outside your usual orbit. Gobo aims to be completely transparent, showing you why each post was included in your feed and inviting you to explore what was filtered out by your current filter settings.

Ethan Zuckerman, Who Filters Your News? Why we built, 2017