Tuesday, April 1, 2008

In News We Trust

On Easter weekend, I had a brief conversation with my family about the state of the media and how blogs have been an intricate part of keeping it in check. When I commented that a lot of people don't trust the media, my brother-in-law chimed right in stating that he is always skeptical of what the media reports.

This conversation is a tiny drop in the bucket of how many feel about the journalism in this country so it is interesting to see how new media is playing a role in combating it. NewsTrust is a non-profit, non-partisan project that provides a "trust network to help citizens make informed decisions about democracy."

Along with submitting stories to be reviewed, people can review stories and even the reviewers themselves are "reviewed" in a sense with a "transparency rating." The more members reveal about themselves and the more experience they have on the site, the more trustworthy their reviews become.

The idea is to help guide people to understand good journalism from not so good journalism and I do find it a valuable way to share ideas and perspectives on different stories. While there could be potential for a site like this to become a breeding ground of political insults and low blows, most of the reviews I've rummaged through are well thought-out, educated comments that really provide a foundation for discussion.

What I also like about the site is the variety of sources it has. Everything from your traditional print outlets to blogs to broadcast are covered and helps provide a good roundup of media coverage. And the other interesting part to this is that it's the users that determine the top sources. In the FAQ section of the site it's noted:

Our highest rated sources are featured more prominently on our site, based on ratings from our members. (Note that all source ratings on our site are still PRELIMINARY, as stated in our disclaimer below.) We also feature noteworthy sources in the "Featured Source" section of our home page. In order to be listed, a source has to receive at least 6 story reviews, or 10 trust ratings (these preliminary settings are periodically adjusted, based on average number of reviews per source).

So if anyone thinks a particular news source should be included, all they have to do is start submitting stories and rating stories from that source.

Another good site is Politifact, an effort by the St. Petersburg Times and the Congressional Quarterly to examine the truth behind the campaign claims in this year's election.

With projects like these hopefully the media will be able to restore its trust with the public.

No comments: