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NewsTrust in the News: Marin Independent Journal

NewsTrust received a favorable review in the Marin Independent Journal.

Mill Valley Internet reformer tries to increase journalistic integrity
"The concept behind Newstrust is similar to popular aggregators such as Digg.com and Reddit.com, which provide news headlines and links to news stories based on rankings and submissions by readers. But instead of trafficking in snarky commentary, Newstrust ranks its stories based on quality.

A pop-up window appears next to articles and asks users whether multiple points of view are presented, numerous sources are used rather than only a few, and if the author is editorializing or providing an honest assessment of information."

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A New Twist: Voting for News You Trust

First published at NewAssignment.Net

Social news sites like Reddit, Digg and Propeller  tend to judge submitted news articles by popularity. Often the snarkiest headline wins.

As sites develop niche communities, stories that are promoted often cater more to the wants and whims of the group. Recently this lead to some fake stories reaching the front page of Digg

If the first generation of social news sites ranked stories in order of popularity, then the next wave would do well to find a new rubric of voting to separate themselves from the crowd.

Enter NewsTrust, a social news site that rates stories based on “quality journalism.” The beta site is up and running for public testing and is worth checking out.

“Increasingly, commercial news providers are giving their audience more of what they want to hear, rather than what they need to know as citizens. Our best hope for reversing this trend is to help citizens develop an appreciation for quality journalism over populist entertainment,” said Fabrice Florin, founder of NewsTrust.

NewsTrust scraps the classic thumbs-up or thumbs-down voting. Instead users vote on a scale of 1-5 whether a story is well sourced, fair and gives appropriate background. Each metric of voting (there are 12) is clearly defined for users, and the resulting stories, as well as news sources, are then ranked in order of reliability. The new rating method was developed with Michigan State University so that “amateur citizen reviewers using the site’s unique review tools are able to evaluate news as reliably as experienced professionals,” according to Roy O’ Connor, part of the NewsTrust team.

NewsTrust is using the wisdom of the crowd to create a database of stories that can be browsed by topic, so a reader can be assured that the lead story has been reviewed and recommended as a good source of information.

All the other features we expect in a social news site are there — tagging, comment threads, visibility of a users history — but NewsTrust has made some minor changes. While Digg prides itself on letting users remain anonymous, NewsTrust requires a full name to register, keeping their reviewers accountable. That feature alone may prevent special interest groups from creating a dominant presence on the site.

And as the site develops it hopes to add new features. “Future versions of NewsTrust could check if you’ve been viewing too many partisan opinions or entertainment news. We might encourage you to balance your diet with more factual information, more international coverage, or read more viewpoints that you don’t agree with.”

Suggestions for reading viewpoints you don’t agree with?  Now that’s revolutionary!

Social bookmarking sites have done an amazing job at tapping into the wisdom and energy of the crowd to highlight popular news items each day. But without direction the crowd can veer off in ugly directions. Entire blogs have sprung up to comment on the daily drama involved in how these sites operate and perform.

Site moderators try to combat the problem of accuracy, even adding what Netscape calls Meta-Journalism, to give stories more context – but the crowd is still voting for stories based on the vague notion of “popularity.”

But that’s not to knock the crowd. Their collective wisdom could probably judge the reliability of a news source/story faster and better than any site moderator - but only if they are given the tools do so. And until now, no social news site has given them the means.

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About NewsTrust.net

  • NewsTrust.net helps people find good journalism online. Our web review tools let you rate the news based on journalistic quality, not just popularity. Based on member ratings, we feature a daily selection of top rated news and opinions on our free site. We're non-profit, non-partisan, and committed to helping citizens make informed decisions about democracy. More »

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