How Do Online News Aggregators Impact Our Exposure to New Ideas?

We used to get our news from local newspapers: when we turned the page, what was there was there, and we had an opportunity to read it--often we scanned most articles in the front, getting exposure to whatever the editors had written.

As the newspaper dies, we’re getting most of our news online--either from sites we already trust or from news sites like Google News, Yahoo News, and other “aggregators.”

Consider: do you know how news aggregators deliver news to you?

Unlike newspapers, aggregators curate your news to you: for example, you get news about your home country rather than someone else’s.

We know that companies like Yahoo and Google make money by understanding your search history and providing you with targeted advertisements and content. Does this apply to the news that you get?

Some people believe that these aggregators give you news you already like because you’re more likely to click the link (and they’re more likely to get paid for that click). It could be a bad thing (it limits your exposure to what you already believe) or a good thing (it gets you to read the news when you otherwise might not).

So! An exercise, for those who are interested: if you use a news aggregator, find a friend who uses the same one.

  • Log in side-by-side

  • Look to see which sections in your news aggregator give you the same news, and which different

  • Put any interesting results in the comments section below!


Erik Fogg

We do politics, but we don't do the thinking for you.