Any site whose mission claims to harness the "power of the web to restore credibility in news media" is worth a closer look. Especially when they claim to be apart of the social media revolution. Especially when its plans includes news aggregation.
NewsCred, a news aggregator that ranks stories by the credibility of their source, has launched its public site. Instead of relying on popularity, NewsCred allows users to rate each story, author and publication’s credibility, which is then plugged into an algorithm to determine the site’s prominent headlines. But isn't rating a biased measurement?
Nevermind. News aggregation, which we once declared as the demise of web journalism, keeps on reinventing itself as the savior of online news media. Hated by journalists and touted as unbiased approach to discerning good from bad by readers, it's been a slippery slope upon which news aggregators have built their empire.
NewsCred explains it this way, "Our community votes on the credibility of articles, authors and news sources, and we apply our CredRank algorithms to ensure you only get the highest quality news from the sources you love."
Again, love is very subjective, so how could such a news aggregator begin to "discriminate between real vetted news and biased, unfactual or untenable news" by using such personal attributes?
Its creators continue to repeat their mantra that NewsCred is "different" from other prominent sites as it selects quality, while other presents popularity. To secure such "quality" content, they take content from traditional, mainstream new sources, combine them with established blogs and then select only the highest quality articles that are relevant to users.
Ultimately, NewsCred is more than trying to provide the most credible news sources. It's about "trying to change the way millions of users access the news and obtain information about the world they live in".
However, if trying to maintain a transparency among news media is the goal, depending upon the opinions of readers isn't really the most direct way to go about it. Educating journalists about how to verify sources and not be swayed by political agendas of their publishers, might be more advantageous, than letting readers decide that authors and publications have more credibility because they are sources that you "love."
Not to mention that even defining credibility is subject to debate. Is it an author's credentials, a publication's political endorsement or a penchant for not lying, making up or otherwise hiding the "truth" no matter how messy or uncomfortable it makes us? Or might it instead be based upon the votes of confidence of others?
In addition to revolutionizing social media, NewsCred also aims to become the first public database of journalists, along with their profiles, history of articles, comments and credibility track records.
With so much idyllic goals on their plate, NewsCred has their work cut out for them. Now that they are beyond their beta release, it won't take long to determine the credibility users gives NewsCred.