It’s been more than three weeks since Facebook launched its Paper app and I have yet to see much diversity in the kinds of stories it delivers to my news feed.
Granted, Facebook never billed it as providing more content from diverse sources. I got that idea when I read about the reference to “emerging voices” from Facebook’s announcement about the app, which stated: “Each section includes a rich mix of content from emerging voices and well-known publications.” So finding different voices was my hope in downloading the app, which became available Feb. 3.
So far I have found a total of three stories related to Native Americans. One story was about the controversy over the nickname of the Washington, D.C.-based professional football team, which I found under the heading of “Score.” Under the heading of “Equalize,” I found a story about a pilot program that allows tribes to prosecute non-Natives who commit violent crimes against women on tribal lands, and one about a docudrama being produced about the life of deceased Cherokee leader Wilma Mankiller called “The Cherokee Word for Water.”
Most stories about people of color fall under the heading of “Equalize.” There were some stories linked to Black History Month, but not nearly as many as I expected. (That seemed to be the case in news media in general this year. Maybe the 2104 Winter Olympics took away from that coverage? But to allow that as an excuse would be letting news organizations off the hook.)
My hope for the app was high after I had read the following preview in TechCrunch several days before the app’s launch:
Each Section combines stories chosen by Facebook’s human editors and surfaced by the Paper algorithm that have been posted publicly to Facebook by a publication, blogger, public figure, or average Joe. The goal isn’t to just pump articles by The New York Times, but also posts by expert yet undiscovered bloggers, commentary by industry pundits, and opinions from laymen.
I have seen very few entries in my news feed from bloggers or average Joes. On one hand, that might be good. But, really, that’s where I thought I would find the most diverse authors.
To achieve what I’m looking for, a news aggregation app would have to broaden its sources of information and deliver news with the key words “diversity,” “people of color,” “Native Americans,” “American Indians,” “Alaska Natives” and other racial and ethnic minority groups. I haven’t found anything like that yet.
Maybe I have to develop it myself.