News App: Ground News

The difference between truth and fiction in current news reporting has not really changed all that much. After all, ‘fake news’ and propaganda are both cut from the same cloth. Ground News might help make sense of it all.

The Ukrainian World Congress (UWC) has called on the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to “review the eligibility” of Top Gun: Maverick for this year’s Oscars. Wow. Is it due to the Pentagon’s massive funding of the movie? No, it is its alleged ties with a Russian oligarch.

08 March 2023 | James Porteous | Clipper Media News

Many ‘news-hounds’ have given up on following the news on a daily basis. It is almost impossible to wade through the ‘biased’ news coverage with any hope of actually finding out what is happening in the world aside from you-know-what.

If you use social media as your newsfeed, it is even worse.

On the one hand, you might read endless reports that the US wants to ‘ban’ TikTok for sharing information with ‘the Chinese government,’ but you might be reading these reports on Twitter or Facebook, two of the platforms most often used by the US government to harvest and share information with the US government.

And in this current ‘pro-war’ environment, everything you read is what we used to call ‘war propaganda,’ no matter what your views happen to be.

So – typical pot kettle black.

Ground News appears to offer a quick and dirty way to allow readers – as adults- to determine if the ‘news’ they are reading is biased, let alone true or not.

I say ‘appears’ because of course by now we know that algorithms do take time to give us what we want or need, and some are designed to prevent that from ever happening.

But Ground News does appear to offer hope that it will do what it claims.

At first blush, the ‘sources’ offered might seem to be standard, mainstream and mostly US-dominated, but there are options to add your own sources. One might add WSWS and RT for example.

It is worth checking out. If nothing else it presents a pretty wide and handy summation of things that are happening around the world aside from death, war, and destruction.

After all, even my summary is biased!

James Porteous | Clipper Media News

‣ Company: Snapwise
‣ Founder: Harleen Kaur
‣ Mission: To identify biases and coverage gaps in prominent news sources
‣ App launched: 2018
‣ Team size: 10
‣ Go-to emoji: 🙏🏼

Talk about an impressive résumé.

Ground News cofounder and CEO Harleen Kaur’s CV starts with a degree in aerospace engineering and goes on to stints with NASA (where she worked on the Pluto-bound spacecraft New Horizons), a German satellite company, and Rolls-Royce, where she was the youngest and first female vice president.

In 2017, Kaur shifted to start Ground News, a news aggregator that helps you see how media outlets across the political spectrum are covering—or ignoring—a topic. Not only does it let you read coverage from thousands of publications worldwide, it also shows the political bent of an article or outlet (which is ranked by a third-party service and Ground News users themselves).

Based in Ontario, Canada, Kaur and her team launched their inaugural Ground News Mac app and a new Safari extension this year. We spoke to her about her inspiration for the app and the advantages of being an outsider.

Ground News shows the political leanings of various media outlets and identifies stories that might be blind spots to those on either end of the political spectrum.

What inspired you to launch a news app?
During the Gulf War, I remember my dad switching between CNN and BBC and Al Jazeera and seeing how things were being reported across different agendas. That difference kept being exacerbated as we hit the internet age and the business model where clicks mean revenue. The news organizations clearly decided they had to capture certain readers by catering to them more. We started Ground News right after the 2016 election, when we saw that divide really grow.

How do you view the app in light of recent events?
To me, the divide was never more evident than what we saw at Capitol Hill. I couldn’t fathom as a reader—and as an engineer—why we were supposed to do all the work to decide what was really going on. Why was there no news source that could give me a full picture? Ground News attempted to be that element.

How does the Ground News rating system work?
The magic lies in what we call the clustering algorithm. We do the heavy lifting so that with a few clicks you can see how the same piece of news can be exaggerated or equivocated. We show it side by side and let you scroll along the political spectrum. It’s very fundamental to us not to pass judgment. As soon as you do that, you lose one side or the other. And if you don’t agree with our rating, you can change it in the app. But the point is not to get hung up on CNN versus Fox; the point is to see how different places cover different topics.

If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself?
Don’t underestimate UI/UX. You can have the most interesting information, but users—especially iOS users—have really high expectations from the interfaces. They will only stay with you if you can deliver in terms of design.

What’s the best part about being an outsider in the news business?
Optimism. If you’ve spent time in the newsroom, there can be a lot of scars. We can say, “Hey, this can be done. It’s possible.” And we can support those newsrooms—especially local ones, which are a big part of what we spotlight.

New product feature launch: Catching up with Ground News

Velocity News (No date)

Founded by siblings Harleen Kaur and Sukh Singh, Ground News is the world’s first news comparison platform that enables readers to see how thousands of media organizations are reporting news across the political spectrum. The platform was built to allow for quick scanning, which makes auditing news easy.

We recently caught up with their team to learn more about their recent growth and new product feature launch.

Ground News website – the product is offered in web version, Apply Store, and Google Play

The following has been edited for clarity.

Q: What led to the idea of creating a news app? Was this the first startup idea you had?

As is the case with many startups, our news app idea evolved from an adjacent problem that we were solving. We first built an app where average people could report and verify news. However, we found that the pain point of news consumers was not to get more news. They got value from all of the information available and filtering it down to the most accurate, meaningful, and well-labeled stories. With over 50,000 news sources on our roster, we are now one of the most diversely-sourced news companies in the world.

Q: You mentioned an upcoming product feature launch, could you tell us more about that?

With less than 100 days remaining until the U.S election, Ground News is launching its new Blindspot tool. Blindspot gives users insight into what news stories are being covered by the left or the right but not by the opposite side. If your politics bend to the left or right, you may be missing a large portion of true news stories. Ground News Blindspot looks for and brings you those stories, which may broaden your perspectives and your opinions.

New product feature (in yellow) on the web version of Ground News

Q. What are your major strategic goals in the next 12 to 18 months?

Growth! As a company with thousands of happy paying customers, our main objective is to reach more people. We plan to give people easier access to Ground News in their daily news reading by making our product available (newsletters, web app, browser extensions) on more platforms.

Stories from one side of the political spectrum or the other that had little to no reporting

Q. What are some of the best opportunities on the horizon for your company?

I believe that the biggest opportunity for our company lies within our society’s potential big move away from social media as a news source. Over the last decade, many of us have become dependent on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media channels for our news. Over the last couple of years, we have learned the risks of using social media as our main source of news, especially the very real impact of misinformation, clickbait, and bots. As more people move away from social media, they need to find their way to a source of information that is just as comprehensive but without the noise – a spot that Ground News fills very well.

It took us 14 months of tweaking our free-to-use product before we could go out and confidently market to paying customers. A lot of companies struggle in this phase. It takes time and support to get over this hurdle. The Velocity community’s support was an instrumental part of overcoming this challenge. – Harleen Kaur, CEO

Q. What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced while building your startup at Velocity? How did you overcome this?

Our biggest challenge as a company has been gaining our first customers. It took us 14 months of tweaking our free-to-use product before we could go out and confidently market to paying customers. A lot of companies struggle in this phase. It takes time and support to get over this hurdle. The Velocity community’s support was an instrumental part of overcoming this challenge.

News bias across the political spectrum

Q. How have you benefited from all of the startup programs that you’ve been involved with?

With Velocity, Communitech, and other startup programs we’ve been a part of, the most important benefit has been the network. As we scale, we’re hitting all the questions that a growing startup has and it’s great to know that someone in the community can help or connect us with someone who can. We also like to be on the other side and help a fellow startup founder with something we’ve already dealt with as often as we can.

Q. What do you enjoy most about building a startup?

The most enjoyable part of building a startup is adding value to people’s lives – our team, our community, and our customers. With our hands-on approach to customer support, we get a ton of kudos and compliments on our product and our mission. Sometimes customers can be downright emotional about how happy they are with Ground News!


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