Wednesday, August 14

Top 4 Spots in Jacksonville's Arlington Neighborhood

top four restaurants in jax arlington
I was on the News4Jax website when I saw an "article" about local restaurants. The article said it was about Arlington restaurants, and I figured it wasn't that big of a deal that my location was being used to show me stories relevant to where I was. However, after reading the short blurbs about the top 4 restaurants in my area, I saw the disclaimer on the bottom of the article:
This story was created automatically using local business data, then reviewed and augmented by an editor.
So, I was not only reading an article that accessed my location in order to serve the right content, but the content itself was provided by the businesses being reviewed. Sure, the star-ratings were from Yelp, which is semi-reliable, but there is no real indication that these four restaurants were the top-rated restaurants on Yelp. I assume that they were the four Arlington restaurants that paid to be part of an advertising article promoting them.

You can see from the address bar that the article title was "Check Out The Top 4 Spots in Jacksonville's Arlington Neighborhood." While I'm sure the four listed restaurants are just fine, it's disturbing that this content was served to me on a NEWS website as NEWS. It's clearly blatant advertising, paid placement, and not a real review or opinion by a human being. 

What's next? Top four crimes this week articles that pull information from JSO's Crime Map? I know, there's no ad money in that, so probably not. The point is that if pretend articles are being pulled from content on paid-service websites and placed on news websites, then we're in trouble. As readers and as writers. Even the images are from Yelp, which means user-submitted. No one did any work on the article in question, and more than likely, the "editor" is in India, curating and augmenting hundreds of pretend articles every day, never having eaten barbeque ribs in her life. 

With so much data out there, it's nice to get a quick guide to some decent local restaurants to try, so there's a value to articles like the one that I thought I was reading. I might even like the listed places. It might even be accurate. But it's also wrong. 

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