Inspiration

Although news has been made more accessible by the Internet, the public is becoming more and more blind to the truth. This is because the increased access to news has an effect that is twofold - one, people are often bombarded with news, causing a general annoyance and disinterest in world happenings; and two, the amount of “fake news” that infiltrates into the understandings of casual audiences. Make any website look legitimate enough (i.e. the petition to ban dihydrogen monoxide), and many will believe it. After observing this concerning modern trend, our team was inspired to take action. We believe that if people have easy access to news source data, they will be better equipped to think critically and engage with current issues.

What it does

Newscentric’s homepage presents current trending news topics and their related articles to the reader in one place. When a political news topic is clicked, Newscentric recognizes its type and presents articles from liberal-leaning sources alongside articles from conservative-leaning sources, helping the reader become much better informed than before. When other types of news topics are clicked, Newscentric produces a stream of suggested, most relevant keywords to the topic using natural language processing and displays the keyword search result articles alongside the original results. At the same time, Newscentric analyzes different characteristics of other news sources and synthesizes the information in impactful data visualizations for readers. The website includes a plot of news sources, their political leanings, and the extent of their bias. Then, when a source is selected, Newscentric generates a statistical profile of the source’s credibility, sensationalism, topic coverage, and more. Newscentric even allows its users to upvote or downvote an article’s quality and credibility to better inform future readers. The whole experience of Newscentric is designed for the reader to be well-versed about current issues.

How we built it

We built Newscentric using the Flask web framework, working with HTML, CSS, JavaScript, d3.js, and JQuery, as well as the News API Python library.

Challenges we ran into

At the beginning, we had difficulty creating data visualizations for news sources. However, after much trial and error, we were able to create effective, helpful graphs and figures. Filtering articles was another challenge we ran into but persistence in debugging led to success.

Accomplishments that we’re proud of

We are proud of developing an effective, purposefully designed news website that can be useful for a wide range of readers and help address a current, relevant social issue.

What we learned

Through creating Newscentric, we learned that any initial idea has the potential to be what you build it to be. The idea that came out of our brainstorming session is very different from the product we have now - along the way, we added more features, but also realized when we had to limit development to get to a presentable end product.

What’s next for Newscentric

In the future, Newscentric has the potential to become the go-to website for news. We’d polish up the front-end graphics and fully link everything to the News API - we could even create a newsletter service - if people sign up with their email, we would send them daily/weekly emails about the most relevant articles and their related keywords and viewpoints. The goal would be to create a central hub for news, an interface through which the public can make full use of all tools provided to keep themselves informed.

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