Wednesday, News Corp launched Knewz, a Drudge-esque link aggregator it’s pitching as a more publisher-friendly solution to Google News, promising to favor original reporting over quick rewrites. It also seems to be pitching itself as the solution to Google and other platforms’ imagined anti-conservative bias, promising news “free of the bias bubbles and vacuous verticals that frustrate so many discerning readers.” Someone searching for a little more clarity on this wall of screaming text might understandably look to the Knewz About page. This would be a mistake.
Here, users are immediately greeted with what appears to be the site’s tagline: “If you don’t Knewz, you don’t know.” Upon reading this, I understood that I was someone who does not seem to know—and so, logically, I should not Knewz.
If Knewz isn’t for me, who is it for? There’s no clear indication of the intended audience, but the reliance on text and text alone would seem to discount a younger target demo. Meanwhile, blaring headlines covering such topics as “STOCKS REBOUND” and “ ‘WALKING’ SHARKS DISCOVERED” fit the vaguely boomer-esque aesthetic epitomized by the Drudge Report. In order to properly assess Knewz, then, I decided to seek out those who might appreciate it most: moms.
Our survey of five moms (and one dad) is, admittedly, highly unscientific. The parents, who ranged in age from 63 to 74, were selected almost exclusively on the basis of having children in my peer group who were also willing to respond to my messages and bother their parents Wednesday afternoon. Additionally, a considerable number of moms declined to participate at all, though the reasons varied. In one case, a mom had forgotten her Apple ID and locked herself out of her phone just that morning, leaving her temporarily unreachable (“She’s still locked out and might have erased it,” I learned just prior to publication). In another, I was told, “She seems confused and would rather not.”
The following, for whatever reason, agreed.
Mother of Ashley Feinberg, senior writer at Slate (me)
“It looks like it’s just straight news, without anyone trying to influence what you think about it.”
Mother of Susan Matthews, features editor at Slate
“I also don’t like the format, it is not pleasing.”
Mother of Aymann Ismail, host of Man Up at Slate
Mom opened the link, said “I don’t understand what this is or what you want from me,” then hung up.
Mother of Jordan Weissmann, senior business and economics correspondent at Slate
“I like a less sensational presentation.”
Father of Leah Finnegan, executive editor at the Outline
“There are enough sources out there providing bad reporting. I don’t need to look at any more.”
Mother of Libby Watson, staff writer at the New Republic
“I like that it has colour and variety and yet it’s clear.”
Other than my own mother, who alarmingly seems to have found her new favorite website, none of the surveyed parents seemed particularly impressed. But then again, this is still just the beta launch. Anything could be knext.