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Rupert Murdoch’s response to Google News has died after just 18 months



The now defunct news aggregator was an excellent source of bold, italic, underline, and wildly inconsistent fonts.
Enlarge / The now defunct news aggregator was an excellent source of bold, italic, underline, and wildly inconsistent fonts.

In August 201

9, Rupert Murdochs News Corp announced that it was developing Knwez, its own “conservative friendly” alternative to Google News. Knewz went live without much fanfare in January 2020 and officially died today, less than eighteen months later.

What was Knewz?

Knewz described himself as “an innovative service designed to let you consume news from a wide variety of sources, free of bias bubbles and available verticals that frustrate so many discerning readers and thoughtful publishers.” The service was run by News Corp, the Murdoch-owned company behind Fox News, the New York Post, The Sun and the Wall Street Journal.

In practice, Knewz was a news aggregator similar to Google News. It used AI algorithms to scrape content from hundreds of news sources with human editors to “highlight a selection of headlines that provide a broad perspective.” The site design was particularly nice, with building project yellow headings, a tile layer with inconsistent size and frequent use of bold, underlining and italics in the same heading.

Why was Knewz?

The truth purpose behind News Corp-owned competitor to Google News may be harder to figure out. Although Knewz touted himself as a way to “escape bias bubbles,” an independent 2020 study from the Tow Center for Digital Journalism suggests otherwise.

According to Tow, the New York Post had the most links on Knewz’s landing page seventeen times in February / March 2020. This record was followed by Fox News ten times – with the Daily Mail followed twice and NBC News and the New York Times eventually binding at once each .

On Knewz’s political side, the Conservative slope was even clearer, with links to Glenn Beck’s The Blaze, Ben Shapiro’s The Daily Wire and Tucker Carlson’s The Daily Caller appearing more frequently than links to News Corps’ own Wall Street Journal.

In addition to providing a conservative-friendly feed, the site was likely intended to put pressure on Google to pay News Corp for the use of the headlines at Fox, the Wall Street Journal and other businesses. The “pressure Google” theory is particularly likely given that News Corp.-owned outlets themselves tended to list it.

The Wall Street Journal said News Corp “has complained does not adequately reimburse publishers “in its coverage of Knewz’s launch and reiterated the observation again in its coverage today of the service’s death.

Why is Knewz closing now?

The farewell announcement on knowingz.com today simply states, “We certainly had descent, but no profits,” and offers a selection of links to “some of the world’s most trusted news sites” – including all News Corp-owned businesses – including ( bizart) realtor.com and mansionglobal.com. But there may have been another key factor at the time of Knewz’s closure.

In February 2021, News Corp reached an agreement with Google in which the search giant would make “significant payments” to continue buying headlines from News Corp-owned stores, including Fox News, the New York Post, The Sun and the Wall Street Journal.

With a financial agreement with Google locked and operational, the Murdoch-owned site may have simply survived its main purpose.


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