Ground News Review: Is It Overrated Or A Great Tool?

Ground News Review: Is It Overrated Or A Great Tool?

You can access many news sources and aggregators, but sensational headlines aren’t helpful when determining hard facts.

An accurate snapshot of the cyber security landscape will help you make timely decisions on a personal and organizational level. However, how do you weigh each piece of news appropriately when media bias has been a known problem across different countries for decades?

In this article, we’ll cover Ground News, a service that aims to solve this issue. We’ll discuss its unique features, why it appeals to cyber security professionals (and the general public), and how to make the most of it. Finally, we close with a demo of Ground News in action.

Without further ado, let’s dive into our Ground News review.

What Is Ground News

Founded in 2003 by Harleen Kaur, an ex-NASA engineer, Ground News is a platform that helps readers compare the news from around the world.

Unlike your run-of-the-mill news aggregator, Ground News shows you how media agencies cover news from across the political spectrum, highlighting media bias and offering you a more nuanced understanding of global events.

Ground News gathers news from 50,000 sources globally and has metrics on political bias, reliability, and ownership of news outlets. These are helpful for critical thinkers to improve their news literacy.

Unique Features of Ground News

Plenty of news apps exist for cyber security professionals and others to stay updated with current issues. What makes Ground News stand out among its competitors?

Source Comparison: Ground News isn’t the first app to label news sources as “left,” “right,” and “center,” but it has the additional function of allowing you to group your selection of news by clicking on these labels and giving an AI-generated summary under each label.

These summaries help you to get a big-picture overview of various narratives of the same news item.

Ground News also displays the breakdown of news agencies’ political orientation for each article in the “Bias Distribution” sidebar.

news item about a ransomware-busting operation
A selection of “center”-labeled articles on a news item about a ransomware-busting operation

Blindspot Reports: A key feature of Ground News is an option on the top menu bar called “Blindspot,” which identifies stories underreported by one side of the political spectrum. For example, stories appearing in the Blindspot “For the Right” include those not favoring a conservative candidate, which tend to be underreported by conservative media.

Blindspot snapshot
Blindspot snapshot

Coverage Analysis: How can you assess news sources covering a story’s geographical distribution and political bias? You can apply the following filters to each Ground News item:

  • Most Recent/Sort by Bias/Sort by Location
  • All/High/Mixed/Low Factuality
  • All/Local/National/International Locations
  • (optional) Hide Paywall Sources: if checked, Ground News only shows free news articles

For example, a media agency in the United Kingdom first broke the ransomware article above. The “National Locations” filter allows you to find other UK-based news outlets that reported on the same event.

Ground News Coverage Analysis: National Locations
Ground News Coverage Analysis: National Locations

A polarizing piece of news might need more coverage by news agencies on the opposite end. For example, you can sort the news items to see first what old media has to say regarding a financial decision affiliated with a figure it often bashes:

Ground News Coverage Analysis: Sort by Bias (liberal first), High Factuality (legacy)
Ground News Coverage Analysis: Sort by Bias (liberal first), High Factuality (legacy)

It may be unsurprising to see that the only news agencies that covered this merger extensively are those at the center of the political spectrum: rocking the hostile world of finance as an outsider can trigger uneasy feelings.

Personalization and Alerts: You can personalize your news feed and set alerts for topics of interest in the “For You” tab. Here’s an example of what it looks like for a cyber security enthusiast to use the “For You > Custom Feeds” feature:

Setting up a cyber security news feed on Ground News
Setting up a cyber security news feed on Ground News

Why Ground News Appeals to Cyber Security Professionals

Cyber security professionals have much to gain from a subscription to Ground News for the following reasons.

The Importance of Unbiased Information

Access to balanced information is crucial in cyber security because valenced word choices in publications can affect one’s perception of an issue and the ability to make an informed decision.

What one focuses on expands in one's consciousness, and humans are prone to confirmation bias. In the data deluge we live in, perception is reality.

For example, you may underestimate or overestimate the benefits and risks of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology because of how you get informed about them.

Regular crypto users will eagerly introduce you to their favorite blockchain-based services, but scam victims will tell you to stay away from them at all costs. You can’t explore something and avoid it simultaneously.

Staying Ahead of Misinformation

An unsourced quote often attributed to famous author Mark Twain goes, “If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you’re misinformed.”

Learning about the rest of the world through the lenses of others can lead to acquiring false information, and Ground News aims to reduce that risk.

Even though top universities in the world, including Oxford at its Oxford Internet Institute and Cambridge through its Social Decision-Making Lab, have conducted extensive research into mainstream versus alternative sources of information since the 2010s, no algorithmic solution to distinguishing fact from fiction exists, as in a talk Tom Scott gave at the Royal Institution.

Conscientious readers must, therefore, be acquainted with the principle of verification in journalism.

Chris Proops, the Director of Perseus Intelligence and a specialist in open source intelligence, including mis/dis information analysis, states,

A tool such as Ground News enables analysts to quickly identify bias within media sources, which is crucial for quick assessment into potential misinformation campaigns. With 2024 known as the ‘year of elections’ with over 2 billion people due to vote across 50 countries, tools that can identify how media bias could be coopted by threat actors looking to spread misinformation to vulnerable voters become ever more useful."

Proops has experience monitoring the democratic integrity of elections as well as various information operation campaigns targeting the UK including COVID, ULEZ and other conspiracy theories.

We’ve seen from previous information campaigns targeting the UK that the media can play a part in their spread by unwittingly sharing unverified information, which in turn is used by threat actors looking to destabilize the UK’s information environment.

Although you’ll need first-hand sources of information to verify factual claims made on the Internet, and not everyone has the money to do so extensively, Ground News does help a reader, especially a non-journalist, to a considerable extent.

  1. It enables you to suspend judgment upon reading the news instead of offering commentary in line with your existing views too quickly to detrimental effects.
  2. Because you read across different news sources, you avoid jumping to early conclusions that may be inconsiderate. A temptation for many of us who rely on social media to gain a following is to appeal to a fraction of our audience while alienating the rest of them.
  3. Because different narratives paint the same issue in different ways, you’re motivated to think critically about what you’ve read, not necessarily to form an opinion but to raise questions the news writers haven’t addressed.

Whether you’re a student or in the position of a decision-maker in your organization, your ability to ask questions, thanks to your critical thinking skills, spells the difference between a good and great student, employee, or leader.

Global Perspective

Cyber security professionals must understand cyber threats worldwide because we use products and services from various multinational companies, and zero-day vulnerabilities anywhere affect everyone.

Ground News facilitates your understanding of different cyber security issues by allowing you to compare and contrast their news coverage.

Want to Try Ground News for Yourself?

Sign up here and see what it's all about!

How to Make the Most of Ground News

Now that we see the benefits Ground News brings to cyber security professionals, we can look at how we can optimize our experience with Ground News to help us stay informed.

Navigating the Platform

When you sign up, you can choose between the International and other regional editions of the Ground News app. You can also set your location so that Ground News can deliver local news items.

The “Local Locations” filter on online articles indexed by Ground News will give you results.

Set Location
Set Location

You can set Ground News alerts by toggling Enable notifications on the web app.

The mobile app lets you choose Daily News Update, which lets you stay informed with each day’s top stories, and Silent Mode to avoid interruptions during work. Customizing the notification sound (Android only) can help you classify news updates rapidly.

The “For You” tab on Ground News contains many functions to customize your curated news experience, including:

  • My Feed: News items fulfilling your Discover criteria show up here
  • Discover: Filter out news items according to the provided Topics, Places, People (such as public figures), and Sources
  • Custom Feeds: Set up personalized feeds on news topics you specify
  • Saved Stories: News items you’ve bookmarked
  • Citations: These integrate with the Ground News browser extension, which helps you compare a news article’s coverage with other media reports on the same issue
  • Manage Sources & Topics: This option allows you to modulate exposure to a certain topic (“Topic(s) that you have requested less of”) and customize the bias rating of news sources to fit your understanding of the media landscape

Once you’ve mastered the Ground News platform, you can easily compare news articles.

Engaging with Different Perspectives

Those who aren’t politically vocal might wonder why we should care about the political biases of various news articles.

The essence of what constitutes left- and right-wing media is the default readership, who may not have access to accurate and complete information. Ground News aims to heal the breach caused by such splinternets in open-minded readers.

Here are some methods to help you engage critically with stories covered from various angles to form a well-rounded understanding.

  • Notice the bias bar on articles, but treat the statistic as a reference, not an absolute. Ground News sources get their labels from third-party news monitoring organizations whose standards may differ from the consensus of communities along the political spectrum.
  • Use the Blindspot feature judiciously to identify gaps in news coverage on topics not widely covered by your favorite sources.
  • The Vantage Ground News subscription shows you the ownership or financial interests behind news media agencies that provide you with news articles. Media companies usually don’t bite the hand that feeds them.

Because of the increase of new media, primarily in the US, news monitoring agencies, including those Ground News uses for its biased ratings, still have to catch up with them.

That’s why “untracked bias” or the lack of factual information appears in some news articles, such as the following. Nevertheless, you can edit their bias according to the instructions below.

For example, the keyword “Faith” suggests we could classify the media agency that published the following tech article as a conservative “right” media agency.

The article covers the Facebook, Instagram, and Threads outage on Super Tuesday (March 5, 2024), affecting people around the globe, and speculates a connection between such downtime and political action.

Example of an article with missing bias and factuality information
Example of an article with missing bias and factuality information
Original article body
Original article body

Updating the bias rating requires three steps:

Step 1:

Click on the three dots in the top right corner of an article
Click on the three dots in the top right corner of an article

Step 2:

Select “Disagree.”
Select “Disagree.”

Step 3:

Select the desired bias and click “Save Changes.”
Select the desired bias and click “Save Changes.”

In addition to the features above, you can look into My Account > My News Bias for your news-reading statistics tracked by Ground News.

My News Bias
My News Bias

Using Ground News for Research

The following are suggestions on how to use the platform as a research tool for cyber security trends and threats:

  • Search for topics and news headlines using the “Search” bar
  • Curate custom feeds surrounding your topics of interest
  • Save news items that interest you (you can find them in Saved Stories)
  • Automatically generate in-text citations using the Ground News Chrome Extension to support your research
  • Remember the bias, factuality, and ownership ratings are for your reference only and aren’t always complete. It’s essential to ask questions while combing through news reports, such as why media agencies with certain biases would report on certain news items while others avoid them

Want to Try Ground News for Yourself?

Sign up here and see what it's all about!

For example, the Meta outage of Super Tuesday, March 5, 2024, came with several distinct headlines identified by Ground News.

It’s difficult to see all of them in one place unless you look at the topic “Meta” and scroll down the latest news stories. The bias ratings are also rather spotty regarding this particular news item, with few labeled sources:

Meta topic news items on Super Tuesday outage

Only one relevant item exists in “power outages:”

Power outages topic - news item on Meta Super Tuesday outage

On the one hand, the diversity of headlines and absence of labeling makes it difficult to group articles and analyze this piece of news using Ground News metrics on bias and factuality.

On the other hand, we can also appreciate the wildly disparate narratives on the Meta outage and get a clearer picture of what happened that day. While most articles report on the downtime, some focus on the cost to Meta, and two sources zoom in on Elon Musk’s reaction to it.

Ground News in Action

We’re looking for a current, high-interest cyber security issue as our demo case study. Let’s go for AI deepfakes in this section.

Selecting a Topic

Type “deepfakes” into the search bar. The topic appears on the drop-down menu.

deepfakes

Here’s relevant news. We’re aware of victims of AI voice clone scams. Still, this report (“Finance worker pays out $25 million after video call with deepfake ‘chief financial officer’”—first seen in South China Morning Post) is groundbreaking because it alerts readers to the convincing and deceptive nature of audiovisual AI simulations.

Finance worker pays out $25 million after video call with deepfake ‘chief financial officer’ 45 Sources Tuesday February 6, 2024

Comparative Analysis

The news article mentioned above is notable for its balanced coverage and numerous sources—45 articles. The number of sources on each third of the political spectrum is roughly the same.

Coverage of deepfake article
Coverage of deepfake article

Insights Gained

Ground AI is an AI-powered summary generator. It scans news articles and summarizes their chief findings according to the sources’ biases.

Description of Ground AI
Description of Ground AI

The following is the article summary by “left,” “center,” and “right”-labeled sources, respectively.

Ground News Left Summary
Ground News Left Summary
Ground News Right Summary

The Bias Insights function highlights the key differences between the three narratives. Analyzing the topic through Ground News reveals that each narrative's focal point differs significantly.

  • Left: The multi-person nature of the deep fake scam, its connection to similar frauds
  • Center: Various communication methods in the scam, the ongoing investigation, the absence of arrests
  • Right: The perspective of the deceived employee, how interacting with the head office brought the fraud to light
Bias Insights: Finance worker pays out $25 million after video call with deepfake ‘chief financial officer’ Left Center Right  Bias Insights The left highlights the multiple-person nature of the deepfake scam and its connection to other similar frauds, whereas the center focuses on the use of various communication methods in the scam and does not emphasize other incidents. The center alludes to the ongoing investigation and the absence of arrests, an aspect not emphasized in the right. The right stresses the singular duped employee's point of view and the subsequent awareness of the scam following interaction with the company's head office, a detail not emphasized by the center.

Our demo concludes here. Your experience will be different if you have only a few articles. Ground AI can only give an output if it has sufficient articles with the same bias classification.

Conclusion

Is Ground News good or overrated?

At first glance, you might believe it’s overrated because the third-party labels of the news sources appear rigid and inflexible, like those of other news aggregators and fact-checkers. But once you understand its features, you can customize Ground News to suit your news-reading appetite.

Overall, we had a satisfactory experience exploring it and recommend you try it for yourself by signing up here.

This article provides an essential overview of Ground News when seeking and comparing cyber security news reports on the same current issue. We hope it’s a valuable tool for everyone, cyber security professional or otherwise, to keep up with the developments in the field and stay informed of upcoming digital threats.

Check out our StationX Membership to access a wide range of cyber security courses and strengthen your and your organization's security posture against ever-evolving digital threats.

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  • Nathan House

    Nathan House is the founder and CEO of StationX. He has over 25 years of experience in cyber security, where he has advised some of the largest companies in the world. Nathan is the author of the popular "The Complete Cyber Security Course", which has been taken by over half a million students in 195 countries. He is the winner of the AI "Cyber Security Educator of the Year 2020" award and finalist for Influencer of the year 2022.

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