By Steve Outing
That’s how my latest Editor & Publisher Online column is rated by 11 reviewers (as I write this) on Newstrust. The column is about the larger issue of the proliferation of alternative news sources online (blogs, grassroots media, et al), and the lack of any competent guidance in telling consumers whether those sources are credible or not — and it discusses the NewsTrust non-profit initiative as one specific approach to alleviating the problem.
I don’t feel like it was a brilliant column by any means, so 3.9 ain’t such a bad score. Editor & Publisher itself is rated as an overall source as 3.7 currently on NewsTrust, so I guess I’m a bit ahead of the game. Still, the score feels a little like getting a “B” on a writing assignment in college.
You can read the column yourself if you want to learn more about the online source-credibility issue and NewsTrust in particular.
But seeing NewsTrust in action and my own work reviewed, a few other thoughts are worth dissecting here (and weren’t covered in my column):
1. Journalists will need to get used to this public grading. Sure, we all get reader feedback: letters to the editor, private e-mail praise and rants, bloggers opining on the quality and/or content of our reporting, etc. But this statistical public assessment of what we write is another thing altogether. I do think that it will allow journalists willing to take in criticism to learn how to do better. It’s a good thing, but it could make some journalists uncomfortable.
2. I suspect that NewsTrust will turn into a useful hiring tool. The reporter candidate who talks a good game but whose NewsTrust-ranked stories consistently get ranked in the 2 out of 5 range may have trouble getting hired. Handy tool for hiring editors. Maybe not so great for average reporters who want to find a new job.
3. If NewsTrust does have an effect on individual careers, I can envision some journalists trying to game the system.