The company’s new Knewz.com site — a text-heavy agglomeration that has already drawn critiques of its cluttered design — officially launched Thursday as a “beta” test. The site, patterned after other aggregators like Google News, Apple News and Drudge Report, compiles headlines and links for publications across a broad range of political leanings, from Fox News and Newsmax to Daily Kos and Mother Jones. In announcing the launch of Knewz.com, News Corp said readers will be presented news “from the widest variety of sources, free of filter bubbles and narrow-minded nonsense.”
Knewz.com is currently sourcing headlines from more than 400 publishers. News Corp said it expects to expand the roster during beta testing.
Publishers whose headlines are currently being pulled into Knewz include: CNBC, CNN, Bloomberg, the Washington Post, the New York Times, NBC News and the New York Post. Also in the mix are News Corp’s Wall Street Journal and Murdoch’s Fox News.
Others included in Knewz are: Anchorage Daily News, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Axios, Bangor Daily News, Black Enterprise, The Blaze, Bleacher Report, BuzzFeed, Daily Kos, Deadline, Defense News, El Paso Times, Essence, The Federalist, Foreign Affairs, Hartford Courant, Mother Jones, The Nation, National Review, Newsmax, Out, Reason, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, The Root, Scientific American, Talking Points Memo, Tampa Bay Times, Townhall, Washington Examiner, Washington Free Beacon, and Winston-Salem Journal.
For now, the free Knewz.com does not carry any advertising but that could change down the road. News Corp said it will share “as much data as possible with publishers” from Knewz to help them “have every opportunity to monetize their content.” The company also said it will prominently feature news orgs’ branding “to ensure that provenance is respected.”
“Knewz is unique in that readers can, at a single glance, see multiple sources,” News Corp CEO Robert Thomson said in a statement. Waxing poetic and a bit pretentiously, he continued, “We live in a world of vexatious verticals, of crass clickbait, of polarized perspectives and fallacious, fact-free feeds – Knewz is knowing and needed. Knewz nous is in the house.”
While Thomson took a swipe at social-media distortions of news, his company is business partners with Facebook for Facebook News, a new tab on the app that aggregates content from multiple sources and is compensating certain publishers (including News Corp).
Meanwhile, even as Thomson decried “crass clickbait,” the initial iteration of Knewz.com includes a section called “Crime Scene” with such headlines as “Amber Alert: 3 women found dead in South Florida, baby missing,” “Man pleads guilty in railroad spike killings of San Diego homeless men” and “Man who traded meth for sex with teen sentenced to prison.”
When News Corp first sketched out plans for Knewz last summer, media pundits poked fun at the clunky name while also wondering how the company could really gain traction against Facebook or Google as a news-aggregation source.
News Corp tapped Noah Kotch, former editor-in-chief of British tabloid the Daily Mail, to oversee Knewz. The service is run by a team of News Corp editors and producers in conjunction with the company’s strategy team as well as its Storyful unit, acquired in 2013. The site uses “proprietary artificial intelligence” to help editors pick out featured articles, according to the company.
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