VettNews Unveils Ratings of News Organizations
To Help Inform Citizens and Combat Spread of Fake News
Initial Audit Shows Some Top News Sites Miss the Mark
NEW YORK – Sept. 20, 2018 – VettNews, the first complete digital solution to tackle the problem of information pollution, misinformation and hoax news, today shared the results of its audit of 50 top media websites at NYC Media Lab 2018, hosted by The New School.
News outlets earn a Green, Yellow or Red rating based on the completeness of their adherence to basic standards of journalistic integrity. The ratings, available through the VettNews browser extension, will be assigned to news organizations around the world as part of a transparent process that involves several criteria, including whether newspapers, magazines or news websites make public the company’s code of ethics and whether it corrects mistakes.
Its initial audit of 50 of the world’s most-read news websites were surprising in that some good news organizations didn't receive a green light, VettNews’s top rating.
Organizations such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Reuters received a glowing green light for their transparency with readers. On the other end of the spectrum, popular sites like Breitbart, India Times, and GlobalTimesCN landed a red light because they lack a visible ethics and standards statement, demonstrate an unwillingness to correct errors and fail to clearly label the difference between news and opinion articles.
Meanwhile, some surprisingly good news organizations end up with a yellow light. Bloomberg News, CNBC, The Hill, The New Yorker and The Atlantic all earned yellow. This means they can do better meeting the ratings criteria.
Founded by Paul Glader, an associate professor of journalism, media and entrepreneurship, at The King’s College in New York City and former Wall Street Journal reporter, VettNews, presently consists of a database of more than 50,000 legitimate and fake news sites.
“Citizens need – and indeed want – more help navigating the online news media ecosystem,” Glader said. “We created this database and app because we believe news organizations need to be as transparent as possible with their audience in this new age where most readers view journalistic content via social media.”
With its mission to make ethics visible on the Internet, VettNews assigns the ratings to news organizations based on their answers to three key questions: 1) Does the news organization correct itself when confronted with mistakes? 2) Does the news organization espouse a code of ethics? 3) Does the news organization clearly delineate fact-based reporting from opinion pieces?
A team of journalism professors and industry experts audit each news organization in the database using the three-question methodology. VettNews will also provide CIA World Factbook-style overviews of news organizations that explain why the outlet earned a green, yellow or red rating. The beta version of VettNews reviews will also include information on the news organization’s ownership structure and political leaning. In future upgrades of the ratings system, VettNews plans to involve technologies such as blockchain authentication, machine learning and natural language processing to create even more sophisticated tools to improve media literacy for citizens.
Vett is the Swedish word for “savvy” and the aim is to make citizens savvier about news media organizations they read online. VettNews wants to make news organizations more transparent to citizens about ethics policies, how corrections are handled and the ability to differentiate between news and opinion.
“We believe citizens should have good information about news organizations as they decide where to spend their precious time and subscription dollars” Glader added. “It’s clear to us that citizens are more confused about news than those at media organizations may realize.”
About NYC Media Lab 2018
Founded in 2010, NYC Media Lab is dedicated to driving innovation and ultimately job growth in media and technology by facilitating collaboration between the City’s universities and its companies. Comprised of a consortium including New York City Economic Development Corporation, School of Visual Arts, New York University, Columbia University, The New School, CUNY, IESE, and Pratt Institute, NYC Media Lab's goals are to include generate research and development, knowledge transfer, and talent across all of the city’s campuses.
VettNews, is a part of Vett Inc., which aim to make citizens savvier about the news media organizations they read online. The creation of VettNews stems from a Forbes.com post authored by Paul Glader in February 2016 titled, “10 Journalism Brands Where You Find Real Facts Rather Than Alternative Facts.” The article gained more than 1.3 million readers, along with requests to expand the list and build a product to help citizens understand media outlets. For more information on VettNews, its mission and methodology, visit VettNews.com and follow us on Twitter @VettNews.