Hi, Rory O’Connor here, NewsTrust Editorial Director, with the first in a series of posts intended to jumpstart a dialogue about how our community can best find and share quality news and opinions, based on core principles of journalism – the very underpinnings of what makes the NewsTrust experience so important and meaningful...
I’d like to start the conversation by discussing the issues of trust and credibility in the daily news. We live in a media-saturated era, one in which news and information from a wide range of sources is readily available to common people for the first time in history. This unparalleled information access, although clearly empowering, is also quite disruptive and presents its own unique set of issues and challenges, both to journalists and to society as a whole. Faced with this virtual tsunami of unfiltered information -- powered by a technological revolution that has democratized tools of media production and distribution, delivered by an unprecedented amalgam of beleaguered professional journalists and newly inspired amateur ‘citizen reporters,’ and distributed at the speed of light via a wide variety of both new and legacy media -- how can any of us be sure that the news we see and hear is true? Are there any journals and journalists that we can really trust and rely on? If so, how can we possibly find them amidst the clangor and the clutter of TMI –- too much information?
Increasingly, sloppy and gossipy journalism is treated as legitimate news, opinions are presented as facts, and misinformation spreads throughout both our mainstream and alternative news media --threatening the very foundation of our democracy. Numerous factors, including (but not limited to) the digital information revolution and its explosion of sometimes spurious online outlets, the consolidation of mainstream media by huge multinational entertainment conglomerates, and the concomitant spread of cable television's highly partisan and factually challenged opinions-as-news formats, contribute to this mistrust. What’s worse is that many no longer feel they can even trust the news media itself to deliver the information we need as citizens.
How then can we find credible news and information? Enter NewsTrust. By filtering content from online sources, establishing common metrics for evaluation, and accessing the "wisdom of the crowds" through social networking and “intelligent aggregation,” our free service offers one possible solution to the "News You Can Trust" conundrum. Anyone can submit stories and news sources for community consideration. Each is then researched and rated by panels of reviewers for factual evidence, fairness, sourcing, context and other basic journalistic principles. To read more about the principles we collectively evaluate at NewsTrust, check our Quick Review Tips:
Some reviewers are practicing journalists, others students -- but most are simply "ordinary citizens" seeking trustworthy information. An important part of our mission is to help citizens grow their news literacy skills, and make more informed decisions about democracy, across party lines. The results so far are encouraging. Our research suggests that "amateur'" citizen reviewers using the site's unique review tools are able to evaluate news quality reliably, as shown in this report:
But we don't claim to have all the answers, and look forward to improving our review process with your help. We encourage you to weigh in here with comments, criticisms, observations, and recommendations. Remember – if you don’t trust the news; rate some of your own!