Rather than turn the operation of its new News app to high-powered computers programmed by complicated algorithms, the world's largest company by market capitalization is looking to hire editors. Real, live people with experience in news reporting experience.
The Cupertino, Calif.-based maker of the iPhone is betting that consumers prefer a warm, human touch for delivering their news as opposed to a cold, computerized program. The decision to hire journalists is fueled in part by the notion that judging a story's newsworthiness isn't something easily programmed.
"Algorithms are useful mainly to the extent that they are able to mimic human behavior," Dan Kennedy, an associate professor of journalism at Northeastern University said in an email. "Using actual humans definitely seems like an improvement."
At its Worldwide Developers Conference held a week ago in San Francisco, Apple announced the launch of its new Music app, proclaiming that humans are superior to algorithms when choosing playlists. Similarly, Apple declared that a similar human touch would be need for its news app.
Toward that end, the company has listed a job posting for an "Editor of Apple News." The position requires a journalist with more than five years of newsroom experience and preferably a masters degree. The 40-hour a week position should have the ability to "recognize original, compelling stories unlikely to be identified by algorithms." The success of this model is yet to be seen.
"If they hire bad editors, it won't be so good," Tom Rosentiel, Executive Director at the American Press Institute said. "People thought that Google would become a dominate news source, and that didn't happen."