Monday, November 24, 2008

The value of NewsTrust

Quality journalism has an online ally in NewsTrust, and for good reason. The site is very effective at bringing well-written and researched articles to the forefront of hot-topic political issues, and it's easy to leave NewsTrust having read articles that provide valuable insight and, in some cases, opinion and analysis.

The way the site works is that users find articles online, critique them and submit them, therefore (theoretically) bringing the better articles to the forefront of a topic and letting the readers know what to watch out for. I got to partake in this exercise, reviewing an effective Associated Press story about APEC, a decent AFP story about Obama's economic team, and an outstanding Reuters analysis of Lawrence Summers. In addition to the fact that it just makes you feel smart to point out the flaws in a work of professional journalism, I enjoyed the experience. You get a chance to help advance the awareness of quality journalism, while making your own footprint in the reviewer's community. Like reviewing a movie or a song, it's fun to feel like an expert, and the fact that you're doing good at the same time makes it even better.

The strengths of NewsTrust are obvious. You filter out the bad stories, and the better reviewers get higher marks. Therefore, the better reviewers are more prominent, and the stories that they like most become more prominent. When you log on to NewsTrust and see that a highly-rated reviewer is calling a story "excellent, and well-written", you want to read the story, therefore increasing the exposure of articles that deserve it.

However, as much good as NewsTrust does, there are flaws. As was mentioned in class, a bad reviewer who is marked down by a good reviewer could spitefully mark down the good reviewer, therefore hurting the reviewer for a reason that wasn't his fault. Also, the reviewing process could be hindered by something simple. A reviewer could read a story and be pleased with the article, yet rate it a 3 out of 5, because he or she feels no stories are good enough to rate 4's and 5's. However, these issues seem to be acknowledged and taken care of, and NewsTrust continues to run smoothly as an efficient critique forum of journalism.

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