Last Friday, Mike LaBonte gave a presentation to my Reinventing the News class on NewsTrust. LaBonte is an editor at the site, which allows users to read and submit news stories from any news site, then review them on the website.
Other people can also have the opportunity to review the articles once they’ve been added to NewsTrust. People can rate articles on a variety of qualities, and can do a quick review or a more in-depth review of the aspects of the article. Ultimately, each article gets a rating of 1 – 5, which can change as more people rate it.
Recently, I reviewed five articles for NewsTrust. I reviewed three that were already on the site, and submitted two of my own. You can see all of my reviews here, at my member page.
I tried to rate articles that had to do with my beat, and ended up reviewing four stories that were about food in general (only one that was really baking related) and one about abortion that was on the front page of NewsTrust. I reviewed all stories on the “full review” setting.
I had a great experience reviewing these stories. It was easy to navigate, and I thought the “full review” setting had a thorough list of questions that got at different aspects of how the article was constructed without being too overwhelming.
Assessing articles through questions like, “Is it fair?” “Is it well-sourced?” “Is it enterprising?” adds a level of thoughtfulness that allows reviewers to really take the time to think about what goes into good journalism. With such detailed questions, it’s difficult to have a knee-jerk reaction and just dismiss a piece without explaining what’s bad (or good) about it.
One of the issues I have with NewsTrust is that the way comments are set up is a little confusing. At first glance, it wasn’t obvious to me how someone comments on a story or a review. People can comment on individual reviews and engage in a conversation that way, but I can’t find a way for people to comment on the reviews in general.
Another issue I had was that two of the articles I reviewed turned out not to be full news stories, but basically blog posts about an issue. Both the food stamp article and article about fresh bread were small blog posts that got most of their information from other articles. In the case of the food stamp post, it was categorized as “news” but it wasn’t also categorized as a blog post, so I was suprised to find that’s what it was. The option to check “blog post” is available when submitting an article; it might be helpful to require the person submitting the article to check that box.
In general, I think NewsTrust is a great resource for journalists and general news junkies alike. I hope the editors there find ways to publicize this site more, because I think a lot of people can benefit from its services.