When I speak to groups this question inevitably comes up, “I don’t know what information to trust online.” Fair question. I also struggle with the opposite problem, there are so many information sources that I feel overwhelmed trying to read through them. Well, wait five minutes in the Connected Age and someone will have a new application to solve any problem. Welcome NewsTrust!
NewsTrust has taken the idea of social networks and applied it to journalism. In their words it is:
The free NewsTrust.net website features daily feeds of quality news and opinions, which are carefully rated by our members, using our unique review tools. We rate the news based on quality, not just popularity. NewsTrust reviewers evaluate each article against core journalistic principles such as fairness, evidence, sourcing and context.
NewsTrust presents news articles to their membership who review tools using criteria such as fairness, evidence, sourcing and context. Reviewing articles takes some time and consideration on the part of members – but thoughtfulness has never been time-free. NewsTrust is built upon two powerful characteristics of the web: the power of reputation systems (ratings systems that a large number of users or customers can help shape and increase their trust over time), and the power of social networks to help build and shape large communities over time.
The folks at NewsTrust did a lot of testing and research prior to their launch. The site is based on solid research that indicates that citizens who are not journalists can provide valuable feedback on the quality of news articles. According to its website, NewsTrust had initial seed funding from the Mitch Kapor Foundation, the Ayrshire Foundation and the Tides Foundation, as well as Craig Newmark (Craigslist), Doug Carlston (Public Radio International), Fabrice Florin and other private donors. It recently secured multi-year funding from the MacArthur Foundation for $450,000.
NewsTrust is one of the most exciting developments I’ve come across in a while – it really does have transformational possibilities.