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Making Sense of NPR One

Aug 4, 2014

There's a new way to listen to national and local NPR programming.

It a mobile app that tailors what you hear to your listening interests.

It's called NPR One.

Is it a game changer for digital news delivery or more like 'some' things considered?

"I downloaded it on the day it was released. I listened to it during a jog on the next two mornings and I am pretty enthralled with it," said Kelly McBride of the Poynter Institute's Sense-Making Project. "I Like the fact that it gathers some information about me and it lets me tell it what I'm interested in."

NPR One is like the online music service Pandora. Through your story choices, it decides what kinds of stories to give you in the future.

"You hit play and the first thing you hear is the top of the hour newscast. And then it starts giving you some  news content from the last 24 hours. Then, eventually, it starts cycling through some evergreen content - from this week, last week. And then you get to some stuff called NPR vintage, which is really driveway moments, sort of a best hits from the last couple of years," McBride explained. "It's pretty entertaining. It's a good mix, I think people are going to like the way it gets smarter."

But isn't there a potential problem of isolating yourself inside a bubble of just the kind of information you like? 

"I talked to a couple of the programmers who developed this," McBride said. "They promised me that it will not create a filter bubble because of the way they are hand-curating some of the content."