best news source?
April 7, 2016 8:17 AM   Subscribe

Trying to find an unbiased online news source which considers the real importance of the news story in relation to its prominence.

I find myself getting involved or concerned in news stories that really do not have any bearing on me, and I wonder if there are other stories that might affect me directly that I never hear about. Example: I do not need to hear about every poll or gaffe involving a presidential candidate. It would be nice to have a bespoke news source that delivers important news to me that matters, yet does not cater to me from a liberal/conservative perspective so I do not live in a bubble. Any thoughts?
posted by alball to Media & Arts (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Back when dead trees were the sole source of news, I used to read The Christian Science Monitor.
Here's their website, check out some articles and see if that might be what you're looking for.

Hope this helps!

- Bill
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 8:43 AM on April 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

By bespoke I assume you mean something that is custom-tailored to your individual interests and specification, in other words a hyperpersonalized news stream. This is a long-sought but largely unrealized service, into the waters of which I have personally waded, without success.

It is difficult enough to develop apps that supply streams of music personalized to your tastes, or for Netflix to make fairly good recommendations of films you may like, or for Amazon to recommend products to buy based on your browsing and prior purchases. Supplying you with a customized news stream is a couple of orders or magnitude harder, because unlike music or films, there is not a relatively static, slow-growing, evergreen body of content to feed you, but a much larger body of content, published in multiple formats, that is dynamically shifting by the minute, and which must be parsed for meaning on the fly and then delivered in response to your interests and specs, which may also shift instantaneously. On top of this there is the problem of serendipity — finding content you'll be interested in that you didn't know you'd be interested in until you saw it, and therefore didn't have it expressed in your profile of interests. Machine algorithms are just not up to this hugely complicated set of tasks yet.

So in the meantime, you're stuck with personally curated news streams, which are almost by definition biased in some way. The CSM recommended above is pretty good, as is the Guardian, in this department.
posted by beagle at 8:53 AM on April 7, 2016

It's probably not as customizable as you're looking for, but I use Google News and it does allow some customization. I have hidden entire categories I don't care about, and it lets you adjust the weighting of the topics and sources.
posted by primethyme at 9:14 AM on April 7, 2016

Probably not too customizable but maybe the ProPublica org would meet your want for being unbiased..?

In the best traditions of American journalism in the public service, we seek to stimulate positive change. We uncover unsavory practices in order to stimulate reform. We do this in an entirely non-partisan and non-ideological manner, adhering to the strictest standards of journalistic impartiality. We won’t lobby. We won’t ally with politicians or advocacy groups. We look hard at the critical functions of business and of government, the two biggest centers of power, in areas ranging from product safety to securities fraud, from flaws in our system of criminal justice to practices that undermine fair elections. But we also focus on such institutions as unions, universities, hospitals, foundations and on the media when they constitute the strong exploiting or oppressing the weak, or when they are abusing the public trust.
posted by foxhat10 at 9:34 AM on April 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

Honestly, the Economist, especially the print version, does this really well.
posted by General Malaise at 10:48 AM on April 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

It depends on what kind of news you read. For example, I like my local newspaper, but unless you live in my city, that's probably not a useful recommendation.

I get most of my national news from the New York Times, the Big Three broadcast news networks, and the AP via Yahoo.

As a rule of thumb, I think bigger means less biased. Thecway the media industry is, there's so little money to be made by boutique news organizations that nearly all of them take a noticeable point of view. There's just not any money to be made from a small blog or (in the old days) magazine.
posted by kevinbelt at 1:25 PM on April 7, 2016

The Economist is not 'unbiased', but it's also not partisan. It's also not 'bespoke', but like any news source, you can choose to ignore the sections that don't interest you so much. With those two caveats out the way, it's really, really good at reporting on the stories that matter and ignoring fluff and chatter. There are other news sources which are closer to me politically than The Economist, but none which so assiduously chooses stories based on their importance.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 9:37 AM on April 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

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