'The Babylon Bee' Founder Wants to Change the Way You Get Your News
If you're tired of having your news fed to you by Facebook and Twitter day in and day out, you may want to check out a recently launched news aggregation site called "Christian Daily Reporter" (CDR). Created and maintained by Adam Ford (who's also the mastermind behind Adam4d.com and the genius behind the wildly successful "The Babylon Bee" satire site), CDR wants to change the way you get your news — and perhaps even break the stranglehold Google and social media sites have on the daily news cycle.
"The Babylon Bee" (in case you've been living under a rock for the last two years) is a Christain satire site that delivers pointed — and spit-out-your-coffee-funny — commentary on the American church, news, politics, and entertainment. Ford told PJM that the site had 2.3 million visits in December, which is phenomenal for a two-year-old start-up site.
Ford announced the "Christian Daily Reporter" on his website last week, describing it as "Drudge Report, but for Christians."
"As long as I’ve had a computer in front of me I’ve been a bit of a news junkie, but running the Bee for the past 2-ish years has made it necessary for me to keep an extra-close eye on the news — all day, every day — since we write about current events all the time. So the idea, naturally, kept growing," Ford explained in his announcement for CDR. "A few months ago I thought, hey, I’ll throw together a super-basic HTML web page, and as I read the news every day I’ll start dropping links in there that I think are interesting or important for Christians to know about. Politics, abortion, church culture, religious liberty, 'totalitolerance,' Christian/conservative censorship, 'sexual revolution' madness, the increasingly Orwellian power social media and tech giants have, random things I find interesting — these topics and much more are covered on the site."
You've likely heard about the recent algorithm change at Facebook, designed to encourage "meaningful interactions between people," according to Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook. As a result, "You'll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media," said Zuckerberg. That's bad news for content publishers who rely on Facebook to get their news out. But what about you, the consumer? Studies show that two-thirds of Americans get their news primarily from Facebook. That means Facebook (rather, its human-created algorithm) decides what you see in your feed every time you log on. Conservatives have long complained that Facebook puts its thumb on the algorithmic scale, giving priority to liberal media outlets and deprioritizing those that don't advance the liberal orthodoxy. Whether or not that's true doesn't change the fact that only a small percentage of the news generated around the world each day ends up in your news feed — which means there's an awful lot you're missing.
In a manifesto linked at the bottom of CDR, Ford lays out the need for a news aggregation site that's not hostile to Christianity and conservative values:
The majority of people get their news from social networks. We rely on Facebook, Twitter, Google, Instagram, YouTube, etc. to such a degree that we allow them to decide what content we consume, what issues we consider important, what news is news, what is and is not allowed to be said, what's true and what's not.
These companies shape the way our brains think by controlling what our eyes see every day. When we search for something on Google, it’s Google that decides the results. When we go on Facebook, it's Facebook that decides what news and content we see. When we go on Twitter, we only see what they have permitted us to see. Objectivity is an illusion.
Now they increasingly shut down content that they don't approve of. At their own discretion, by their own definitions and values. Facebook and Google have practical monopolies on referral traffic, search, and advertising, and they ban or starve content and publishers that they dislike.
We have given them extreme power over the flow of information. For a few companies to have the power to control the way billions of people think is terrifying and dangerous. It is unacceptable.
As they gobble up the internet, Facebook and Google are creating a world in which information, before it is allowed to reach us, is first filtered through them. Thus, their worldview is propogated, to the detriment of all others.
These companies are increasingly hostile toward Christian content and information. This will only get worse as time goes by. It will not get better.
Put all of this together and imagine the internet 20 years from now.
Rather than taking the fight to the socials and demanding they highlight conservative content, Ford is offering an alternative: News curated by a Christian publisher. Ford vows that CDR won't be dependent on third-party sites to promote its content.
We are not on any social media network. We refuse to be beholden to the internet content gatekeepers. While most publishers base all of their operations around appeasing the "search and social gods" -- from their website design to their content -- CDR is intentionally not optimized for Facebook or Google. We don’t want social media or search referrals. We are 100% independent.
In the spirit of the Drudge Report, the Christian Daily Reporter is a simple static web page, detached from trends.
We focus only on delivering what you need to know, every day. And if you want to read the Christian Daily Reporter, you have to come to christiandailyreporter.com directly. Instead of only visiting when Facebook or Google tell you that you may.
CDR posts a wide range of news stories from a variety of sources around the Internet. Here's a snapshot of a section of the page:
Ford told PJM that he has no plans to monetize CDR — yet. "Perhaps down the road...we'll see." For now, he's thrilled about the response he's received since launching the site. "People are really excited about it," he said. "Much more so than I anticipated."
Ford has some lofty goals, to be sure. It will be a heavy lift to entice people (myself included) away from social sites that spoonfeed us the news Silicon Valley eggheads want us to read. Sure, Ford is hoping to do the exact same thing by becoming a news aggregator, but if you're a Christian, who would you rather get your news from — a like-minded Christian brother... or Mark Zuckerberg? If you believe that what you read shapes who you are and what you believe, this should be a no-brainer.
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