Should I be scared of Apple News?

You can’t blame me, but I have never actually put much thought, if ANY, into who owned the media that I used and trusted with blind faith for the news… You could say that I’ve gone through quite a media awareness awakening, in fact, straight after the lecture, I ran to my parents to inform them of all the media outlets they should and should NOT be reading their news from, though much to my surprise I was behind on the bandwagon… 

It never occurred to me that it mattered who controls the media I use to access my news, and I was wrong in assuming that every news article ever written didn’t contain some form of an agenda, or bias ownership of some sort, particularly, there is a lot to be learnt from Robert Greenwald’s ‘Outfoxed’, a documentary that exposes the editorial and ideological control of Rupert Murdoch and Fox News, a channel whose motto reads “fair and balanced”. 

(Robert Greenwald – ‘Outfoxed’, Cinema Polytica)

You see, before my media ownership awareness awakening, I received my news directly from… Apple News. Indeed. That weird app that came with your phone that you have not bothered to delete along with ‘tips’ and a plethora of other apps that sit on your home screen. Though the problem with Apple News is that, it is what we would call, an aggregator. 

An ‘aggregator’ is a news forum or application that takes news from an abundance of literally every news platform you could think of and harvests its news (legally) within one place for users to access. The mobile app was developed by Apple Inc, owned by its shareholders – Arthur Levinson, Tim Cook, Bruce Sewell, Johnny Sroujli and others as a means to have a “private and human-curated news resource for its users”, though Tim Cook and his buddies aren’t the problem. 

Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

With this, stands a problem for media audiences, being that it becomes difficult for us to monitor then, who directly is the source of our news. A study commissioned by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission “The impact of Digital Platforms on News and Journalistic Content” found that: 

“Traditional media also retains a powerful gatekeeping and agenda-setting roles… news organisations retain significant power over news selection, which creates a shared dominance of digital agendas by a relatively small number of institutional megaphones, be they, platform aggregators.”

So, should I have cared more about the sources of news that I was accessing on this apple aggregator? The short answer is yes. 100 TIMES YES. Because news sometimes is, unfortunately, a form of propaganda – spread with ideological or political interests whether we are aware of this or not, that can either subconsciously or consciously reinforce or challenge our own ideologies or views of the world – which can be, well, bad for several reasons…

Take Louis Althusser, a French influential Marxist Philosopher that looked critically at the concept of ideology. Louis named mass media ‘ideological state apparatus’ and firmly held the belief that media functions to disseminate ideology to the masses – and I cannot help but completely agree with him. 

Let’s go back to apple news with ideology and Althusser in mind. For some time, apple news was my loved and trusted news source. However all this time I had unknowingly allowed media owners to exert political ideology that I didn’t necessarily agree with – but that I assumed to be true because all news sources are believed to be ‘nothing but the truth’. Rupert Murdoch is a prominent Australian media figure who founded News Corp – one of Australia’s largest media conglomerates that disseminates media content to a variety of media platforms like The Australian, news.com.au, The Daily Telegraph, Sunday Telegraph, Sky News and Foxtel. Apple News also happens to pull thousands of news articles from these platforms each day, platforms in which after intense media discussion – I would rather not read from. 

(Inside Tasmania, n.d.)

There are in the world, contested ideologies, these are the ideological conflicts of social attitudes within democracies, and debates regarding how society should be governed – conservative or progressive. Often without our knowledge, groups of interest will promote different ideological stances through the media… Thus, after much deliberation, I have little trust in these sources as I believe they circulate conservative media ideologies and promote political points of views that go firmly against my beliefs – some of which are often misleading, false or manipulated content to deceive, fulfil a political agenda, or in simple terms; to win your vote in the worst-case scenario. 

Whilst all of that may seem messy and scary, I tend to believe despite the concentration of media ownership, Murdoch’s large political influence through his media outlets, and the ‘abuse of power’ that dominates media ownership worldwide; that audiences are indeed as ACTIVE as they have ever been and can openly and critically analyse the media to seek out those nasty political agendas. I have since, been investing my reading in The Guardian, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Illawarra Mercury, the ABC and SBS directly through their platforms – and I can comfortably say that I trust who owns and disseminates the media I read today. 

Apple News 2020, Apple News, Apple Insider, viewed 15 April 2020, < https://appleinsider.com/inside/apple-news.>

Apple news 2020, Introducing Apple News Everything you love about News, viewed 15 April 2020, <https://www.apple.com/au/apple-news/>

‘Louis Althusser’ 2009, in Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, viewed 15 April 2020, <https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/althusser/

‘News Aggregator’ 2009, in Encyclopaedia Britannica, viewed 15 April 2020, <https://www.britannica.com/topic/news-aggregator>

‘Propaganda’ 2020, in Encyclopaedia Britannica, viewed 15 April 2020, <https://www.britannica.com/topic/propaganda>

Tiffin A 2019, New study shows exactly who owns the news, Black Isle Journalism, viewed 15 April 2020, <https://universalcreditsuffer.com/2019/12/10/new-study-shows-exactly-who-owns-the-news/>

Wilding, D., Fray, P., Molitorisz, S. & McKewon, E. 2018, The Impact of Digital Platforms on News and Journalistic Content, University of Technology Sydney, NSW.

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