Monday, November 24, 2008

Reinventing the News: NewsTrust

So much information is spread on the Internet as news, but how much of it is ethical reporting? That's where NewsTrust comes in, a site designed for professional journalists and news junkies to rate the quality of news stories.

NewsTrust is working with Northeastern University in rating Global Economy stories. Tonight I rated three economic stories, beginning with reports of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's potentially unpopular stimulus plan to kick-start the country's economy. The unpopular part comes with new taxation. Next I took a look at China during the economic crisis with a report on housing projects funding and an opinion piece on China's attempts to build confidence through proposed major spending. Both pieces had a mixed tone, seemingly acknowledging China's potential but also fearing the county's success.

It's easy to point out the lack of context in many of these articles, but it's important to remember that many of these stories serve only to report on that moment's news, not an analysis of a whole issue. Context and sourcing were my major issues when rating articles, but it's always easier to rate something than to do it yourself.

NewsTrust is a great idea in that it highlights well-written and researched reports for the public from a variety of sources , but it lacks a major component of all successful online tools: numbers. Popularity is so crucial for influential websites, and NewsTrust has a very small community of dedicated readers and raters. Instead of attracting journalists already in-the-know, average readers need to trust NewsTrust as their go-to news source.

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