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News You Can Use: Trust, But Verify [View All]

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Home » Discuss » Archives » General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010) Donate to DU
mloutre Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-09-07 07:42 AM
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News You Can Use: Trust, But Verify
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Edited on Fri Mar-09-07 07:55 AM by mloutre
One thing that we all agree on quite strongly here at DU is that most of what we read and hear from the various mainstream news media sources is bogus to some extent -- incomplete, inaccurate, in many cases biased.

How can we tell when we're being told the truth and when we're being misled or lied to? How do we know who we can count on to tell us the truth and who we can safely assume is blowing smoke at us? How can we tell the difference between good journalism and bad?

It's difficult to separate the news wheat from the spin chaff, because every time we look at a new article or listen to a new story we have to keep asking ourselves the same questions time after time:

Is this a good story?
Is it informative?
Is it fair?
Is it well-sourced?
Does it show the "big picture"?
Can we trust the publisher of this story?

That's a time-consuming set of mental hoops to jump to every time we see a headline or hear a lead-in to another piece of news. If the answer to all or most of those questions is "yes", then we don't want to miss out on exploring and learning from the story in question. If the answer to all or most of those questions is "no", then we don't want to waste our time or bandwidth wading through it at all.

The Catch-22 here is that we can't answer those questions until we've already invested our effort in reading or listening to the story in the first place. If only there was some way to find out whether it meets those criteria before we bother experiencing it for ourselves. If only there was someone we could trust to hip us to what's good and warn us away from what's bad before we allow it to enter our own personal news streams.

If only there was some kind of news vetting service, someplace where we could go to get news stories that we can safely assume to be trustworthy, because we know that other people with the same cautious criteria to apply have checked them out for us and can vouch for their value. If only there was a reliable source on the web where we knew we could find news we could trust.

If only there was something like NewsTrust.

NewsTrust was founded by Fabrice Florin, a former journalist and a digital media pioneer at Apple and Macromedia. Working with him on the project are a number of other well-known luminaries from the overlapping worlds of journalism, online media, and virtual community networking -- many of which I have either worked with, worked for, or call my friends and mentors. I've been involved with it as a beta user since it first began a year ago. So with that as a disclaimer, in the interest of fair and balanced blogging it's probably best if I don't try to review NewsTrust here myself. I'll leave it to you fine DU mavens to do that for yourselves. I will let Fabrice give you a little background in his own words, though:

"In recent years, the consolidation of mainstream media, combined with the explosion of new Internet websites and the rise of opinion news, have created a serious problem for democracy: many people feel they cannot trust the news media to deliver the information they need as citizens. To address this critical issue, NewsTrust has developed an online social network to help people find and share quality journalism -- or 'news you can trust'.

"Increasingly, commercial news providers are giving their audience more of what they want to hear, rather 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. Social news sites like NewsTrust have a unique opportunity to guide this process, by providing the media literacy tools we can all use to make more informed decisions as citizens.

"NewsTrust can help re-build the trust that has been lost between the news media and the public. We hope to partner with traditional news providers to invite their readers to rate stories on their sites, using our state-of-the-art review tools. These partnerships can offer a variety of other useful benefits: increased traffic and revenue, better customer feedback, more user-generated content, improved editorial quality and community engagement.

"The first generation of social news networks mostly measures content popularity, rather than its quality. But as NewsTrust and the next generation of social news sites integrate more reliable quality measurements and disciplined editorial processes, our collective news filters will become increasingly useful to the general public. To that end, NewsTrust is pioneering a number of collaborative evaluation methods, such as context-sensitive review forms, source reputation databases, and meta-review tools for rating our own work. Over time, we expect to join forces with forward-thinking news providers, to start incorporating methods like these in their own services. Ultimately, the most trusted new sources are likely to be hybrids between traditional news organizations and new social networks.

"We would like to offer the equivalent of a Weight Watchers for information, to help each of us balance our news diet over time. For example, future versions of NewsTrust could check if youve 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 dont agree with. Tools like these can help each of us broaden our perspective, become more discriminating thinkers, and make more informed decisions."

NewsTrust is still in a late beta phase, though it will be formally launching in finished form later this year. It's already matured to the stage where it is a valuable resource for discerning news junkies like ourselves, though, so please don't hesitate to take full advantage of the ways in which it can help you filter out the bullspin and get to the news you can trust. And if you like what you see when you visit NewsTrust at http://beta.newstrust.net , please join the growing group of people (including yr hmbl otr crspndnt, ahem) who are helping build a dependable conduit for reliable, honest journalism.


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