Skip to main content

Do your computer browsers have the free NewsGuard plug-in that offers news website reliability ratings? Should they?

Colleagues,

You are at a library computer and choose to read the news online. You are provided with red or green reliability ratings of news sources when you log into a news site. Your library has installed a NewsGuard plug-in on its browsers. NewsGuard says its analysts are trained journalists who rate news and information sites on credibility and transparency. The NewsGuard website also has a feature where one can submit a news website for review. Should you try out this free browser plug-in? If you do, let us know what you think. Should adult education teachers get this installed on their computers at their school or program? Should they recommend NewsGuard to their students who have computers? Let us know what you think.

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology Group

 

Comments

Leecy's picture
One hundred

David, the idea is good. Red lights appear for me regarding the reliability of NewsGuard itself. What criteria is used by those analysts and trained journalists? 

Perhaps librarians reading this can provide some perspective on this tool. How about it, librarians? Leecy

David J. Rosen's picture
One hundred

Hi Leecy,

Below are the nine credibility and transparency criteria the journalist judges use (verbatim from the NewsGuard website.)

David J. Rosen

The 9 Factors

Here are the 9 criteria that NewsGuard uses in determining if a provider is rated red. A site that fails to adhere to a preponderance of these criteria, as described in the weighted criteria definitions below, are rated red. No site must adhere to all of the criteria to be rated green.

In every case the NewsGuard Nutrition Labels that are provided for each site (by clicking on the rating) spell out the site’s adherence to each of the 9 criteria that yielded that source’s particular rating.

The 9 criteria below are listed in order of their importance in determining a red rating. For example, failure to adhere to the first criteria—publishing false content—will be more influential in determining a red rating than failure to reveal information about content creators.

Credibility

  • Does not repeatedly publish false content: In the last three years the site has not produced multiple stories that have been found—either by journalists at NewsGuard or elsewhere—to be clearly false, and which have not been quickly and prominently corrected. (22 Points. A label with a score lower than 60 points gets a red rating.)
  • Gathers and presents information responsibly: Content on the site is created by reporters, writers, videographers, researchers, or other information providers who generally seek to be accurate and fair in gathering, reporting, and interpreting information, even if they approach their work from a strong point of view. They do this by referencing multiple sources, preferably those that present direct, firsthand information on a subject or event. (18 Points)
  • Regularly corrects or clarifies errors: The site makes clear how to contact those in charge and has effective practices for publishing clarifications and corrections. (12.5 Points)
  • Handles the difference between news and opinion responsibly: Content providers who convey the impression that they report news or a mix of news and opinion distinguish opinion from news reporting, and when reporting news, they do not regularly or egregiously misstate, distort, or cherry pick facts, or egregiously cherry pick stories, to advance opinions. Content providers whose clearly expressed purpose is to advance a particular point of view do not regularly and egregiously misstate or distort facts to make their case. (12.5 Points)
  • Avoids deceptive headlines: The site generally does not publish headlines that include false information, significantly sensationalize, or otherwise do not reflect what is actually in the story. (10 Points)

Transparency

  • Website discloses ownership and financing: The site discloses its ownership and/or financing, as well as any notable ideological or political positions held by those with a significant financial interest in the site, in a user-friendly manner. (7.5 Points)
  • Clearly labels advertising: The site makes clear which content is paid for and which is not. (7.5 Points)
  • Reveals who’s in charge, including any possible conflicts of interest: Information about those in charge of the content is made accessible on the site, including any possible conflicts of interest. (5 Points)
  • Site provides the names of content creators, along with either contact information or biographical information: Information about those producing the content is made accessible on the site. (5 Points)

Criteria Weighting

Each of the nine criteria is assigned a certain number of points, as noted in the section above. The points add up to 100. A website that scores less than 60 points is rated red.​

Note: The weighting of these criteria may change as we receive feedback and continue to develop our process​. When such changes are made they will be noted here.

Criteria Weighting Points:

Criteria Points
Does not repeatedly publish false content 22
Gathers and presents information responsibly 18
Regularly corrects or clarifies errors 12.5
Handles the difference between news and opinion responsibly 12.5
Avoids deceptive headlines 10
Website discloses ownership and financing 7.5
Clearly labels advertising 7.5
Reveals who’s in charge, including any possible conflicts of interest 5
Provides information about content creators 5
Leecy's picture
One hundred

Sounds reliable to me, and if I were a program director, I would certainly try it out. In the meantime, I hope librarians who are using the tool will share their views! Thanks for the list! Leecy

David J. Rosen's picture
One hundred

Hello Colleagues,

I would like you, and adult learners you may work with, to try the free NewsGuard browser plugin tool.  The NewsGuard journalists rate news websites for credibility and transparency, and, once you have installed the browser tool, simple red or green ratings are shown when you go to a website of interest. After trying it out, please let us know here what you think. Here are my questions:

1. Do you, and do your adult learners, find NewsGuard useful? If so, what is especially valuable about it?

2. Is it easy to use? (If not, why not?)

3. Do the nine news website evaluation criteria make sense to you? Would you like to see any additional criteria?

4. Are there ways that you, and the adult learners you may work with, think the tool could be improved?

5. Are there unrated news websites that you, or adult learners you work with, would like to see Newsguard journalists rate? You can submit them for review on the NewsGuard landing page .

6. What questions do you have about about NewsGuard?

Why am I asking you to do this? This news website rating tool looks promising to me but we won't know if you, and adult learners, find it useful unless we hear from you. As far as I know, there are no reviews of the site by adult basic skills practitioners or adult learners to help us know; let me know if you find some. As a Community of Practice I think we need this kind of peer-to-peer information to help inform our decisions about what digital tools we should be using in the classroom and/or recommending to adult learners to use on computers outside the classroom.

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology and Program Management groups

Susan Finn Miller's picture
One hundred

Thank you for sharing this tool, David. These evaluation criteria are strong, and I think sharing this list and discussing it with adult learners would, in and of itself, be useful given the wide range of quality and truthfulness in reporting these days. These criteria could even be used to help students evaluate the validity of information themselves.

I want to give NewsGuard a try and I'm eager to get impressions from others who use the tool.

Cheers, Susan Finn Miller

Moderator, English Language Acquisition and Teaching & Learning CoPs

Nestrod's picture
First

We know who is financing this project, venture capitalist from the mass media conglomerate, editors who don't want to have alternate news to publish what is really going on and keep controlling what is fed to the public.  I wouldn't recommend this to my students.

David J. Rosen's picture
One hundred

Hello Nestrod,

You wrote, "We know who is financing this project, venture capitalist from the mass media conglomerate, editors who don't want to have alternate news to publish what is really going on and keep controlling what is fed to the public." Can you explain how you know that "venture capitalist(s) from the mass media conglomerate" control this website, and determine what news sources get good or bad ratings? Can you explain what evidence you have that NewsGuard doesn't give good ratings tor alternate news media? For example, have you tried installing NewsGuard and then looking at alternate news media websites to see how they rate them? Have you asked NewsGuard to rate any alternate media sites (by adding the site for review, on their landing page)? If so, what are the ratings for these sites? Have you tried applying the criteria to NewsGuard that NewsGuard claims to use in evaluating other news websites? Would that be an activity you would be comfortable in using with your students?

To be clear, I am not promoting NewsGuard, and I read alternate as well as mainstream media. I ask these questions because I am trying to decide what I think of NewsGuard and, larger picture, I am interested in how teachers can help adult learners judge the websites, TV and print media sources from which they get their news. Perhaps you could share with us how you help your students to critically evaluate news sources.

David J. Rosen

randomness