About the news

Most of us read the news.

Some people even have news apps on their smartphones to stay up-to-date.

Let's talk about the news.

Visiting one big German news site (spiegel.de), two huge ads are welcoming me, eating around 30% of the whole screen.

Scrolling down, one of them stays on the right side of the screen, forever.

Why do I tell you this?

Because the news site makes money out of this.

No big news, and the people working there want to feed their kids, alright.

But let's look at their incentives.

The news site (spiegel.de) is owned by a for-profit company (Wikipedia (German)) and ~19% of the revenue comes from online ads (Wikipedia (German)), year-over-year growing.

How this works:

  1. Advertiser gives money to the news site for each click or each sell.

  2. News site places money-making ads more prominent than other ads.

So what (scammy) ads do we see the most? Health and finances, because people buy most stuff in these categories.

And because it's not about the usefulness of the stuff, but only about making money, there are few morale incentives to only advertise useful stuff.

This is why we see ads like "Angela Merkel buys these crypto coins!!!"

Question: Short-term: Which scenario has the higher probability to make people buy the advertised stuff?

  1. A user visits once per week to read a long-form essay and who is focused on the content?

  2. A user visits ten times per day to jump from short-form news to short-form news to feel "informed"?

Question: Long-term: Which user is more hooked into coming back to the news site to mindlessly scroll through the site and maybe click on an ad to buy some stuff?

Advanced Questions:

  • Why do you read the news?
  • Do you gain useful knowledge by reading long-form content or short-form content?
  • Is any of the current news still relevant next week?
  • Is there some actionable advice in news?
  • Are you trapped in the idea that "I read news, because I learn something from it, so I feel very productive."? (trap: any information seems to be somehow useful)

Some interesting questions and I think having a look at the tactics the biggest social media advertising companies (Facebook, Twitter etc.) use, lead us the way.

My simple solution: I don't read so-called "news". If I want to stay up-to-date, I go to Current Events on Wikipedia, mostly once per week to get a broad overview.

I'm also just on click away to learn more about the related topics.