Introducing Sift News Therapy: An app that helps you feel news differently

According to a 2018 Pew study, nearly two-thirds of Americans feel stressed by the news. When news anxiety leads to feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, our civic engagement and democracy inevitably suffer.

This conundrum led us to Sift, a news therapy app that allows people to stay informed about contentious topics while reducing anxiety and stress.

We built Sift to provide an active learning experience that engages more of your brain—a tool for people to interact with, trust, and learn from. And one that doesn’t have to live within a distracted ecosystem of noisy newsfeeds and headlines competing for attention.

Sift gives you historical context, data visualizations, and direct access to primary sources to help you navigate the daily firehouse of breaking news. Our mission is to encourage a healthier relationship with the news.

It took a few approaches to get here. When we began thinking about Sift two years ago, we tested several ideas: a reference product that felt too much like Wikipedia, a digital news magazine that didn’t offer anything new, and even a gamified education product that lacked substance.

We landed on Sift, our experiment in news therapy. It launched in October 2018 with a topic that posed the question: How does immigration impact the economy and cultural identity in the U.S.? This framing allowed us to provide space for nuance and push past polarized “for” and “against” arguments on a complex topic.

After our two-month experiment, users reported that after using Sift, they felt:

  • 33% less overwhelmed
  • 30% less anxious
  • 22% more informed.

This gave us enough confidence in Sift’s ability to make an impact that we decided to produce a full series.

Moving forward

Launching April 18, our first series will continue to unpack some of the world’s most contentious issues.

Series 1 of Sift offers a 6-month subscription for $19.99 with a 7-day free trial in the Apple Store. It’s important to us that Sift’s business model reflect our core principles: No ads, no data targeting, and no distractions. As a news therapy app, we want to avoid the traps of a revenue model that contributes to news anxiety and the polarization of emotions about the news.

Get the iOS app and give it a try.

In order to set a foundation, part one of each topic looks to the past to make sense of today’s challenging moments. Part two looks ahead at potential solutions and surfaces considerations on how to move forward.

Together, we’ll examine six topics. Each topic will be released on a weekly basis:

  • Immigration
    • What’s the impact of immigration on the U.S. economy?
    • How does immigration influence U.S. identity?
  • Guns
    • How have gun rights and regulation evolved in the U.S.?
    • What can a public health approach tell us about gun violence?
  • Healthcare
    • What is the current state of the U.S. healthcare system?
    • Global Comparison: How does healthcare in the U.S. compare to other countries?
  • Education
    • How has school segregation changed since Brown v. Board?
    • What is the role of affirmative action in higher education?
  • Climate change
    • How have past emissions contributed to global warming?
    • What can communities do to adapt to climate change?
  • Media Literacy
    • What does it mean to be “objective” in the news?
    • How can I stay informed without feeling overwhelmed?

While we won’t be able to cover everything, we hope our first series will help make tough topics less overwhelming. Our ultimate goal is to help our users pursue deeper understanding by making space for complexity and nuance.

Get the iOS app and give it a try. We’d love to know how you feel about the news. Feel free to reach out at hello@siftnewstherapy.com