The few things that have eluded the online word -- as opposed to the infamous written word of yesteryear -- are metrics of validity and accuracy, and the grail of a referenceable reputation.
With so many sites and so many people wanting to consume and interact, we never really can be sure whose version of what is most accurate. Somehow, it was all so much easier to believe when it was published in print. As news -- my favorite topic
as of late -- begins to rely on crowd sourcing
and blogs to tell its stories, it is getting trickier and trickier for users to decipher which news outlet is providing the most accurate, up-to-date version of the day's events.
Thanks to the Newstrust non-profit initiative, finding trustworthy news sources may get a whole lot easier. According to their site, Newstrust is in the process of developing "an online news rating service to help people identify quality journalism."
Members of the site will rate the news online, "based on journalistic quality, not just popularity." Their current beta website and news feed features the good, bad and ugly of the news of the day, selected from hundreds of alternative and mainstream news sources.
Led by Fabrice Florin, a former journalist and a digital media pioneer at Apple and Macromedia, Newstrust's team includes award-winning journalists and media executives and have received funding from Craigslist
founder Craig Newmark.
This social network model, as outlined by Steve Outing in an article
for Editor& Publisher "uses the intellect of the masses to rate all manner of news content and news sources."
Reviewers are users who sign up and then rate news sources using a 5-star selection and sources receive an aggregate score. For individual stories, reviewers are asked to delve deeper into the heart of the story by considering the following (on a 1-5 ranking):
* Is it a good story?
* Do you trust this publication?
* Is this story accurate?
* Does it present all key viewpoints?
* Does it show the "big picture"?
* Does it provide factual evidence?
* Is the story informative?
* Is the story fair?
* Is the story well sourced?
* Is this story well presented?
In case the rating system simply doesn't do a story justice, a reviewer has the opportunity to leave comments, which will show up on Newstrust along with the story. The site is dependent upon the sites that sign up to be rated, and once they do, their results will show up on that site as well as on Newstrust.
Slated to be released in 2008, this site has the potential to influence news, its source and most importantly its content. If I were a struggling newspaper straddling the lines between print and online
, I'd use Newstrust to my benefit as best I could. It will not only promote online news, but it will help newspapers determine what makes news good.