News aggregators
March 14, 2013 3:26 PM   Subscribe

My appologies if this has come up before and I missed it. I am looking for a daily news aggretator that presents stories about what has actually happened (recognizing that the writer may not know what really happened) as opposed to news stories about what someone thinks what they think has happened means. E.g. "Justices Say Budget Cuts May Hurt Criminal Justice" (Have budget cuts hurt criminal justice?",) and "immigration reform can happen in 2013", (will it'? How?") or "Physicists believe they have found elusive Higgs boson particle" (well, have they or haven't they?) and "CPAC Debate: How Will GOP Win Elections?" (Have they?) or, "Is Justin Bieber's bizarre behavior a sign of something more?" (what follows if it were?). I.e., I'd like to find out what happened today without being burdened with what people think it means. Is there such an aggregator that you have come across? TIA carping demon
posted by carping demon to Media & Arts (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Are you looking for some way to filter out the cheap opinion filler pieces news services often mix in with the headlines, or are you looking for 100% absolutely objective journalism?
posted by RonButNotStupid at 3:31 PM on March 14, 2013

Just to clarify, is it just the headlines to which you object? Or articles that set up the question, then fail to offer any information/insight? Because if it's the latter, maybe you just need better sources/a different form of journalsim instead of a better aggregator.
posted by asciident at 3:52 PM on March 14, 2013

Would "President says US will bomb Iran tomorrow" be excluded because its just the President's opinion, while "it rained yesterday" would be included because it is a material fact?
posted by alms at 3:56 PM on March 14, 2013

Wikipedia's current events portal does a pretty good job of presenting a list of topics in the news, though you may need to look elsewhere for up-to-the-minute fresh.
posted by Corvid at 4:08 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Kind of off-beat -- check out Mule Design's Evening Edition, a daily that you can receive by email.
posted by rdn at 4:13 PM on March 14, 2013

Ronbutnotstupid: objective journalism to the extent possible.

asciident: I am unaware of a different form of journalism that collects (aggregates) many current stories, and better sources would be great. I don't know how to find them.

alms: yes

Corvid: I did not know about Wikipedia's currents events portal. Thank you very much.

ren: Will check it out this evening. Thanks.
posted by carping demon at 4:19 PM on March 14, 2013

Twitter's @BreakingNews account might be close to what you're looking for. It generally doesn't link to flimsy follow-up pieces.
posted by dekathelon at 5:09 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

I don't know that you're going to find what you're looking for, due to the conventions of journalism.

Take "Physicists believe they have found elusive Higgs boson particle." How would a reporter, who is not a physicist, was not present when the experiment was conducted, and is not qualified to assess the raw data for themselves, make a determination about whether they have or have not found the particle? A reporter can tell you what the physicists have said, can relate what they evidence they have is, and can also talk to experts who can interpret the data and see if they agree with the physicists or not, and report on why they say they do or don't.

And that's....really about it, if they're a decent journalist. Journalists are supposed to let you know what the sources from which they're getting their information are, and they're not supposed to present their own opinions and theories as fact. In other words, a journalist, and a good headline writer, is always going to report the case as "Alleged Ax Murder Caught" even if the guy was pulled over with blood on his hands, an ax in the back seat and a head in the trunk.

There may be cases where a investigative journalist may be able to write a more declarative headline: Records Show Judge Took Bribes, for instance. But those instances are much rarer than reporting on facts or allegations whose significance is under dispute. .
posted by Diablevert at 9:34 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

You're not going to find this easily, sorry. Once upon a time, when information moved at the pace of the physical transport that carried it, news was things that had happened.

Dial forward to the digital age and the 24h news cycle and facts about events change quickly and news organisations, with more or less due diligence, report what they know when they know it. This means they get stuff wrong. Or they update existing news pieces/bulletins. Or they run new pieces with the new information.

In short, there has been a huge shift towards report breaking news with a higher weight of speculation and opinion. This makes it nearly impossible for an aggregator to sift out the things you don't want but also means it isn't really commercially viable either if you want to operate in the news space.

In theory you could build your own crawler and search index and use some bespoke algorithms to remove articles that are speculative. You would have to come up with a good enough way to train your search engine to spot speculation. I'm sure it can be done. I'm just not sure why someone else would want to do it. Another alternative is that you boost "slow" news sources or sources that tend to avoid speculation. I.e. you don't focus so much on the semantics but on the sources.
posted by MuffinMan at 2:05 AM on March 15, 2013

An aggregator, per se, no. But there are sources you can use that present the news IMO fairly objectively:
* Christian Science Monitor
* Pro Publica
* Tampa Bay Times (formerly the St. Petersburg Times), which is owned by the Poynter Institute and itself owns

I'm also partial to the BBC news feed, although it's cursory with respect to the US.

For US politics, avoid Tiger Beat on the Potomac and stick with the wonk publications National Journal, The Hill [FYI News Corp], and Roll Call.

Still, I'm not really sure what you're looking for, if it isn't a collection of primary sources themselves (for which, go to Twitter and have at it). I mean, obviously, no journalism outlet can determine without its own particle accelerator whether scientists did really find the Higgs Boson, you see? Thus professional journalism is required to report what has been said happened, not "what happened". Even supposedly objective ferreting out of daily Congressional activity is going to involve some inherent bias as to what is important. This is not really the fault of Congress or journalism, but a consequence of human frailty.

As someone with a strong academic background in comparative literature and a somewhat pre-journalism track, I feel I can "read" even a biased source and have some certainty what is really going on. This is a skill that can be developed. The economics of the news business do not lend themselves well to simply regurgitating facts, and when they do, they fall prey to manipulation of the fact-givers. So a healthy respect for the status quo is necessary to interface yourself with any of these spigots of information. I don't think it helps to step back and pretend that you can ignore the bias or filtering that is out there -- indeed, I believe it's necessary to be aware of it as a thinking adult.

The only way you can really do better is to become a primary-source researcher yourself, but one can only do that in sufficient breadth and depth for a narrow focus of niche and topic.
posted by dhartung at 2:36 AM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

posted by ajr at 9:56 AM on March 15, 2013

Thank you all. There are some very good suggestions here that I am going to follow up. I don't know how to mark a question as answered, but you all have certainly done it. Thanks again.
posted by carping demon at 3:57 PM on March 15, 2013

This is great! Thanks again.
posted by carping demon at 1:16 PM on March 17, 2013

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