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New Tow-Knight Project to Identify Markers of Quality in Journalism

  • By Amy Dunkin

How do platforms, advertisers, and readers cut through the noise on the internet to find reliable news sources worthy of promotion and financial support?

A new project led by the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY will gather and analyze signals of quality to help steer advertisers, tech companies, and others towards reliable news organizations and away from purveyors of misinformation and junk.

The work has received funding from the Facebook Journalism Project and will seek additional support from other backers.

The project will not compete with the many efforts underway to identify trustworthy news. To the contrary, it aims to aggregate the work of those existing independent efforts to rate quality in news in a way that will make the information more useful.

“We are not creating a whitelist or a one-size-fits-all quality score, but instead are trying to help companies make better use of the signals that exist to make better judgments themselves,” said Tow-Knight Center Director Jeff Jarvis.

Among the categories of quality signals the project will consider are agreed-upon standards set by scores of news organizations, endorsements by respected professional bodies, audience diversity, and fact-checking track records.

To help with the work, Tow-Knight is collaborating with Trust Metrics, an established company that already rates more than a million sites and apps against thousands of features for advertisers. Trust Metrics not only warns advertisers away from bad sites, but also helps drive ad dollars to the good ones.

Jarvis is also seeking input from social media users, advertising and media companies, government, academics, and NGOs to define needs and solutions for the project. For more information or to send your comments, contact Jeff Jarvis at jeff.jarvis@journalism.cuny.edu.