News is becoming more important than ever.

With the 2020 elections coming up this year, millions of Americans are looking to the news to help them make educated decisions about the candidates they want to represent them. And with countless new voters turning 18, there are a lot of young people who depend on mainstream news outlets to help them develop their political views. We created News to News to help all voters, young and old, diversify their media sources and stay informed about how bias across the political spectrum can change the tone of the news they consume.

See the news from a different perspective.

News to News is not just a simple news search engine - it allows you to query news on any topic of your choice from seven different news sources across the political spectrum: MSNBC, Politico, CNN, Associated Press, Fox News, National Review, and the American Conservative (from most typically-liberal to most typically-conservative) with the press of a button. Note that these news sources were categorized appropriately by several media research organizations, including Pew Research Center, AllSides Media, and Ad Fontes Media, through large-scale, legitimate studies of Americans voters & their perceptions of political bias in the news.

The results of the news search (headlines, images, dates, etc.) will be displayed to you in a traditional newspaper format, adding some old-school charm to the application. Using a Leap Motion controller, which supports machine learning-based gesture control, you can sift through the different results with a wave of your hand, making it easy to compare and contrast the different perspectives demonstrated by the news sources' articles.

We took the news comparisons one step further by integrating Google Cloud Natural Language Processing to the application, allowing us to show the user the highlights of each article (without them having to open & read all of them) along with the estimated emotional sentiment of the author (from negative tones such as angry to positive tones such as cheerful). This shines a new light on how different news sources can adopt vastly different tones about the same current events, depending on their respective biases.

We built the website using modern technologies.

The website runs on a Node.js back-end, where we process the Google Cloud Natural Language Processing requests from the client and send the results back. Most of the other work is performed on the client-side, through simple AJAX calls to the News API, which provides us with our live news articles. All of the styling was done with vanilla HTML/CSS, with custom assets designed & developed in Adobe Photoshop.

Due to the high technical complexity of the project, we ran into many challenges along the way. Here are some of the larger ones:

  • Designing the UX in a way that clearly establishes that swiping left displays more liberal sources, and swiping right displays more conservative sources
  • Consolidating API calls to the News API to avoid hitting the daily quota of 500 calls per day
  • Retrieving enough news article text for the Google Cloud Natural Language Processing to have enough material to analyze for emotional sentiment
  • Dealing with the image loading lag when displaying news articles to the user
  • Calibrating the Leap Motion sensor to work in the hectic hackathon environment

But wait, there's more...

We loved working on this project and can't wait to continue developing it and adding more features. Here are some of our plans:

  • Hosting the website so others can use it on their devices
  • Adding social media integration so users can see top Tweets, Reddit posts, and other data about current events
  • Adding speech-to-text to make the entire application completely hands-free
  • Making a mobile-friendly version of the site (or an mobile application)
  • Adding even more news sources!
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