News Corp, the mass media conglomerate that owns Dow Jones & Company (publisher of The Wall Street Journal and Barron’s), the New York Post, The Times (of London), Foxtel (Australian TV), HarperCollins, and others, is launching a new news aggregation app and website: Knewz.
Knewz is intended to help the publisher be less reliant on Facebook and Google, companies they believe profit from News Corp’s content without fairly compensating the organizations doing the work. Further, according to The Wall Street Journal, Knewz was also born out of a fear that the aforementioned tech giants are biased against conservative sources in their news aggregation and suggestion algorithms (though an examination of Google’s search results in The Economist showed bias toward sources with better reputations rather than a particular ideology).
Knewz is a coined, descriptive name that suggests “new,” “news,” and “knew” all in one. Charitably, the double misspelling of “new” and “news” suggests a novel twist or take on “the news.” But to me, this coined word is too whimsical, and undermines the service’s credibility and authority.
For one, basing your news platform name—a name that should feel current and up-to-date—around the past-tense “knew” seems like a fundamental flaw. Don’t we all want news that keeps us in the know?
Further, the Z substitution on the end doesn’t feel right for the readership and caliber of many of the aforementioned publications. Pluralizing with Z feels cheap, or targeted at juveniles (Hey Kidz! Put away that Bratz doll and check out the cool Knewz!). And like products labeled “Chick’n” in the grocery store are code for fake meat, the misspelling even makes the service feel potentially supportive of fake or alternative news.
That’s not the only strange thing about the spelling. The kn beginning and wz ending don’t make for a becoming combination of letters, and more importantly will likely curtail the name’s ability to travel well outside of English-speaking places.
Ultimately, the name tries much too hard to be both hip on the internet and not hard enough to be credible in a journalistic sense or feel aligned with the caliber of the parent organization.