The rise of social media has had many upsides, but a downside has been the spread of misleading misinformation, distortion of facts and "fake news" that has been sweeping the globe-all masterfully manipulated to look like credible journalistic reports.
Trust is for sale and it's time for a reality check at Vantage News, one of the featured Imagine RIT exhibits that will be on display in the Business Analytics Laboratory at Saunders College of Business. According to the team's three designers, visitor "news junkies" will get to test the new mobile application for information on certain topics to obtain alternate perspectives, historical context and related stories that are critical to getting the big picture.
Although Vantage News is in its "infancy" startup phase, users will be able to test the app prior to its further development that includes consumer research, marketing and prototype testing. (The team welcomes feedback from Imagine RIT visitors.)
"More than ever, the way we consume news is in question," said Ty Clauss from Bloomfield, N.Y., a second-year management and management information systems major at Saunders College. "In the United States' presidential election, misinformation and sensationalism were ever present. Fake news is just a drop in the bucket. What about mainstream media who don't report fake figures, but do leave out facts and tell just one side of the story?"
Clauss says Vantage News is a gateway to reduce bias while achieving greater knowledge and understanding. "Our app takes a new approach to aggregating news, with a framing feature that allows readers to dig for additional information on the topic they are searching for."
Team members include Michael Shullick from Sheffield Village, Ohio, and Pablo Ordorica, from Mexico, Mexico. Both students are computer engineering majors in the Kate Gleason College of Engineering.
Clauss and Shullick came up with the idea to start their own company while on a two-week Accelerated Internship Abroad Program in Dublin, a Global Experiences initiative that was faculty-led last January by Maria Richart, associate director for international outreach and career coordinator at Saunders College.
"Michael and I were roommates and we received a crash course on business and entrepreneurship in Dublin, a tech hub for start-up companies," said Clauss. "After coming up with the concept, we realized we needed some technical help and that's when we pitched the idea to Pablo to join us."
According to Clauss, Vantage News offers an alternative strategy for the news obsessed. It's not just taking information in at face value, but using critical thinking skills while reading a variety of news sources.
"We are hoping to give people more context to the articles they are reading, so if there's a random news story about a new missile launch from North Korea, or the latest news on Brexit, we will have a timeline with historical context that adds more depth and substance-as well as additional news source perspectives to be better informed."