E-News: Social Media for the News

After a year that has ignited more distrust in the media than any other period in my lifetime, it is imperative to seek a new approach to how we get the news — one addresses this newfound skepticism and integrates what has become the dominant means of news consumption: social media.

Facebook, millennials’ preferred news source according to a Pew study, has been proven problematic due to the abundance of fake and biased news, which in the past year became more popular than real news stories.

So here’s my proposal: a website dedicated to current events that integrates the social and sharing aspects of Facebook and Twitter with a means of verifiability, such as with Wikipedia, along with a rating system similar to voting on Reddit.

Such a medium would provide a free flow of headlines but would target and filter out intentionally inaccurate and dishonest stories through user input and a team of editors. Users could connect with peers and collect bookmarked articles for their profile, which would act as curated news. A user’s front page would be a collection of articles based on their chosen interests, such as finance, religion, entertainment, etc.

The majority of newsreaders don’t seek out more than one source, so they need a platform that allows them to cross-reference stories on the same site. Along with this ease of compare and contrast, they would also need a means of assessing the trustworthiness of the source and story. Proven reliable sources, such as The Economist and BBC, would be noted as so, and lesser known or trusted publications would depend on the voting system for endorsement.

Each story would have a vote up/down feature, but instead of voting based on how much one likes or enjoys the piece, it would be dependent on its credibility. So as people encounter stories and vote on them, sensationalized news moves lower on one’s feed and trusted stories are pushed to the top. As time passes, news outlets would be motivated to become more honest and less biased due to this rating system.

In order to provide credentials to lesser-known sources, they would have the ability to link related stories to more notable outlets writing on a similar topic, which would provide access to a larger audience along with validity due to this association. This linking would benefit the publication reaching a broader base along with providing the reader with a more diverse range of sources and perspectives.

Allowing people to re-publish stories onto their profile would facilitate an interactive and personalized approach to news consumption, heightening our sense of connectedness with the events around us.

The editors of the site would work through flagged pieces to weed out especially questionable material — a team effort between users to flag and editors to verify.

My knowledge of technology is limited, but what I’m suggesting is already out there, as noted by the fact that other social media currently uses it.

It’s not a small idea or one that could happen overnight, but it would revolutionize the way we think of and interact with news. It would transform the news into our news as it becomes representative of our values and interests.

It would allow input from the public, putting a story’s popularity into our hands, and equally importantly, it would feature a means of targeting and removing harmfully inaccurate sources.

News can be a means of expression. This past year of Facebook has proven this. People need a system that makes them feel invested in their news but also integrates a means of discretion.

All I’m saying is let’s give people the option to be interested. GoFundMe would be one viable way to test such an idea.