Let me introduce you to Ground News Pro - a news source comparison platform that adds a valuable bias analysis layer over current news event coverage.
Scroll to the bottom of my post to learn more about Ground News Pro and get a code for a free month. (Spoiler alert, the code is: Kelsye)
It’s shocking how much we don’t know that we don’t know.
The first time I lived outside the US in 2004, my beloved compatriots re-elected a President with an extraordinary well-documented collection of moral transgressions, bad policy decisions, and international disdain. The damage he had inflicted on our country showed clearly in our economy, diminished civil rights and suffering reputation. I didn’t understand how it could happen. Americans are smart! And compassionate towards each other! How could we re-elect a leader that did us disservice?
Talking to my friends and family back home, I realized we were getting different information about our own country and American politics. Family members who voted in opposition of my inclination hadn’t heard a peep of some of the stories of the president that played heavy on foreign media channels. And how could they? In 2004 we received much of our news from television or local newspapers. Even if we wanted to access a broader range of news sources, we’d have to work hard to track them down.
Flash forward to 2020, the glorious Information Age.
By now, we should have this news access and awareness problem figured out, right? Through our miraculous devices we can read media reports from almost any corner of the world. All voices have a chance to be heard on the internet.
Yes, well, we still don’t get diverse news.
A new problem has arisen, that of the information bubble. I dwell intellectually in a bubble customized just for me, all incoming info carefully strained through left-leaning filters.
I won't hear about any possible positive contributions a man like Rush Limbaugh may have offered our society. I will, however, read stories about his addictions, hypocrisy, and cruelty towards vulnerable people.
So when the president awards him the highest honor our great nation can bestow on a citizen, I’m not only shocked, I’m incredulous. How can such an obviously horrible man receive this award? Why are people cheering for him?
And here is the problem.
I congratulate myself on being well informed on “the issues”. I keep up with the current events in my country and beyond and seek out books written by people with backgrounds and education different from my own. Despite my good-intentioned efforts, the vast total of my knowledge is tiny compared to the knowledge available to me. I can easily identify what I don’t know (How to speak Arabic, for example.) But that’s just the beginning of my incompetence. Even beyond this acknowledged deficiency, there’s no way for me to know what I don’t know.
Our bubbles contribute to this problem. My Apple news stream has learned to feed me articles from The Guardian and CNN. They know I click on headlines about politics, travel, or Shakira. To keep me clicking, they give me more and more of what I like.
My Google News stream is the same - yet also heavily populated advice columns, though I swear I’ve never clicked on those.
Not only is my news customized for my bias and preference, I often forget that everyone else isn’t reading exactly the same things I am. And therefore, thinking and feeling the same things too.
Unless I make a concerted effort to find and regularly absorb other perspectives, I’ll remain handicapped in my authentic knowledge.
And THIS, my friend, is why I am so excited about Ground News Pro.
The “Basic” free version of Ground News is a news aggregator. If you use Apple News, Google News, Feedly, Flipboard or other similar apps, then you’re already familiar with the basic idea. The new Ground News Pro rises above basic news apps by allowing you easily compare how a story is being covered by thousands of sources from across the political spectrum and from around the world. You can sort by bias, time and location. Ground News even tracks the bias of the news you read - showing you just how big (or small) your bubble may be.
When Apple featured Ground News as the App of the Day, they described it as, “Freedom from Fake News."
Another cool feature - they publish a weekly Blind Spot Report. The report highlights the stories that you may have missed if you stick to one bias stream or another. Click here to see the Blinds Spot Report for the first week of February.
For example, how else might right-leaning news readers ever hear that the Nigerians we just blocked from entry to the US are some America’s best educated and most successful immigrants?
Or when else may I hear about the backlash Don Lemon received for mocking Trump supporters as illiterate 'credulous rubes'?
Want to try it for yourself? Go to Ground.news to download the basic free version of the app. You can find the direct links to the Apple app store and the Google Play store in the left side bar. Once you've got the app, you can upgrade pro version.
Just type my name in the promo code box to get a FREE month at the pro level: Kelsye (Thanks for the perk Ground News!)
Of course, it’s not a perfect tool. It still relies on our imperfect news sources. Maybe we could nit-pick particular bias designations. However, Ground News offers each of us a periscope we can use to peek outside of our bubbles and take a look at the real world. Hey, I see you over there? Can you see me? I’m waving hello. 👋
First published February 11, 2020.