Editor and Publisher on Newstrust
July 30th, 2007

Editor and Publisher has published a good short article about Newstrust, the service (still in beta, but open to new members) that brings sophisticated analysis, not just “thumbs up or thumbs down” to evaluation of the news. If we’re going to have citizen journalism (and keep mainstream journalism honest), we need citizen evaluation, and not just the “yay or nay” kind. I didn’t think they would be able to do it, but Newstrust has begun to grow a truly bipartisan community, with evaluators from the left and the right who don’t spend all day sniping at each other:

Help, it appears, is on the way. A non-profit initiative called Newstrust is developing a system for rating news from a very broad array of sources. And unlike previous efforts that employed teams of paid reviewers (a model that proved economically unviable), this one is a social network model which uses the intellect of the masses to rate all manner of news content and news sources.

In beta now and due out in early 2008, Newstrust will not only be a stand-alone site where consumers can come to find the best journalism as ranked by an army of volunteer media reviewers, but more importantly it will (we can hope) be deployed over all manner of online news sources so that readers will on any news-related website see an objective rating of that site’s quality and of specific news content.

I’ve been thinking for some time that there needs to be some way devised to differentiate the various flavors of content on a typical news site. As a reader, I should be made aware when an article is authored by a professional journalist, vs. a story posted by a volunteer citizen journalist. Something I’ve advocated is making that clear in the byline. And a link off the author’s name should go to a bio page, where we’ll learn that the writer is either a staff pro journalist with a degree from Medill or a school teacher who enjoys gardening and writing.

But Newstrust, I think, goes further than that, and even in another direction. The promise that the Newstrust model presents is that wherever our news search and browsing takes us, we’ll see aids that will help us determine the quality of an online news source and ratings of individual stories.

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