Look Ahead: For Readers, By Readers
Posted: 5/1/2014  |  By: Nu Yang

Instead of scrolling through dozens of irrelevant story links and updates on a news feed, Trove streams in news from thousands of sources so readers can follow topics they care about, pick stories to highlight for others and get the best news stories picked by people who share the same interests. Created by the former Washington Post Labs team (now the technology and innovation division of Graham Holdings Co.), Trove is a revamped version of the Post’s social news app and website Social Reader. The new product launched in January and is available as an app on iPhone and iPad and at trove.com.            

So, what is a “trove”? It’s a collection of articles about a particular topic. By using computer algorithms, Trove sorts through articles from nearly 15,000 sources, analyzing each story, sorting by names, keywords, places and topics.            

“For publishers, it’s an opportunity to expose their content to an audience they might not otherwise reach,” said general manager Thao Tran. “For instance, if I curate a trove on happiness, people interested in happiness might not go to The Daily Beast or The Atlantic to look for stories on happiness, but they might see stories from those sources in my trove.”

Not only are troves created by computer algorithms, they’re also curated by users. Tran said it’s what makes them stand out among news feeds because stories have been vetted by actual readers. Readers can also create their own troves and follow troves.            

“What is the most recent story might not be the most relevant,” she said. “Trove is able to take (curating) to a deeper level based on the content…there’s a great balance with the human algorithm combined with a good technology system.”            

With almost 100 publishing partners, Trove’s editorial team makes sure each story originates from a reliable source. As managing editor Sandy Sugawara works closely with the engineering team to sort through stories and decide which ones to promote, top stories are updated often throughout the day.            

“A key benefit of being a partner is that we share data about how their stories are doing on Trove, what’s been read and shared, and how often,” Tran said.            

As the trend of personalized news grows, Sugawara said she sees a lot of news organizations experimenting with different approaches. “Most large media companies are interested in figuring out how to present their readers with a personalized homepage. If readers are interested in sports, their homepages would have more sports stories. If other readers are more interested in entertainment, their homepages would have more entertainment stories… Trove is one approach that gives the reader a lot of control over what they see.”            

Moving forward, Tran said an Android version of Trove is in the works as well as an upgraded website. “We want to continue to build a large curator community showcasing our best content that’s been shared and picked by readers.”