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NewsGuard

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NewsGuard is a product of NewsGuard Technologies that gives trust ratings of different news organisations. It initially gained popularity after being implemented in Microsoft's Edge browser.

It has extensions for Firefox,[1] Chrome,[2] Edge,[3] and Safari,[4] and mobile applications for both Android[5] and Apple.[6]

Methodology[edit]

NewsGuard reviews and rates media and information sources using a 100 point scale. Sources are rated based on nine different criteria, each with a different weight. Any source that scores a 60 or above will be marked with a green shield (signifying trustworthiness), and those below 60 will receive a red shield (signifying the site is derp). Newsguard also provides what it calls a “Nutrition Label” to explain how they come to these conclusions. Media Bias/Fact Check states that their “nutrition label[s] [are] well-sourced and [provide] examples to support their claims”.[7]

Criteria[edit]

The criteria for the rating is divided into two parts, credibility and transparency.[8]

Credibility[edit]

  • Does not repeatedly publish false content: The site does not repeatedly produce stories that have been found — either by journalists at NewsGuard or elsewhere — to be clearly and significantly false, and which have not been quickly and prominently corrected. (22 Points) Obviously the age of Trump has given NewsGuard ample opportunities to test this criteria.
  • Gathers and presents information responsibly: Content providers are generally fair and accurate in reporting and presenting the information. They reference multiple sources, preferably those that present direct, firsthand information on a subject or event or from credible second-hand news sources, and they do not egregiously distort or misrepresent information to make an argument or report on a subject. (18 Points)
  • Regularly corrects or clarifies errors: The site makes clear how to report an error or complaint and has effective practices for publishing clarifications and corrections, and notes corrections in a transparent way. (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, do not egregiously cherry-pick facts or stories to advance opinions. Content providers who advance a particular point of view disclose that point of view. (12.5 Points)
  • Avoids deceptive headlines: The site generally does not publish headlines which include false information, are significantly sensational, or fail to reflect what is actually in the story. (10 Points)

Transparency[edit]

  • 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) Obviously a source which publishes news stories which subtly segues into an advert for Geico life insurance would not score the full 7.5 points.
  • Reveals who’s in charge of the news source, including possible conflicts of interest: Information about those in charge of the content is made accessible on the site. (5 Points)
  • The site provides the names of content creators, along with either contact or biographical information: Information about those producing the content is made accessible on the site. (5 Points)

Process[edit]

  • NewsGuard hires a journalist to rate the contents of a site against the nine criteria.
  • The analyst drafts a “Nutrition Label” for the site based on their reporting, consisting of a grid showing the site's performance on each of the nine criteria and a written explanation of the content on the site, who's behind it, and why it received its rating.
  • The website is called for comment if the journalist believes a site failed one or more of the nine criteria which is included in the written assessment of the site to provide the website's perspective.
  • The rating is reviewed by other editors. At least one additional analyst, one senior editor and NewsGuard’s co-CEOs review every Nutrition Label prior to publication.
  • The site receives a red or green rating based on the nine journalistic criteria. Ratings involve human judgement to assess a site’s performance on each of the nine criteria, but the site’s red or green rating is determined solely based on the final score.
  • Nutrition Labels are updated periodically. If a site changes its practices, its performance on one or more of the nine criteria will probably change too. Such updates are summarised on their “Updates to Ratings” page weekly.[9]
  1. The names of the writer and editors who worked on the rating are added to the label. If someone disagrees with NewsGuard’s rating for a site, they can write complaint which will be published on NewsGuard’s website[10] and linked from the site’s Nutrition Label.

Ratings[edit]

There are five ratings in total.[8]

GreenRating.png
Green: Generally reliable. Adheres to the usual standards of credibility and transparency, and has a rating of more than 60 on the nine criteria. However, not all green sites are rated equal. Many of the sites rated green are rated with "Mixed" factual reporting at MBFC, which has a green rating for adhering to all nine criteria per se. It does not imply the source is credible for research but mostly reliable.
RedRating.png
Red: Unreliable, fail to adhere to the usual standards of credibility and transparency and has a rating less than 60. Definitely not suitable for research, or general news either. The highest rating one of these sites has gotten in MBFC will be "Mixed", but mostly low.
SatireRating.png
Satire: Satire, intended for humour. These sites are not rated on the 9 criteria, but there is still a brief description of the site.
PlatformRating.png
Platform: Primarily hosts unvetted user generated content, hence may contain unreliable information. Also not rated on the 9 criteria, but the practices and nature of the site are still mentioned in a very brief description.
PendingRating.png
Pending: Pending ratings that the journalists at NewsGuard are too lazy to check, or have just given up on.

Ratings[edit]

The following are a selection of sources rated by NewsGuard. Questionable ratings are represented with '(!)'.

Green[edit]

Red[edit]

Satire[edit]

Platform[edit]

Pending[edit]

Reception[edit]

  • NewsGuard has been rated as a "Least Biased" source with "High" factual reporting by MBFC.[11]

Criticism[edit]

  • Mint Press News (MPN), a site with questionable credibility,[12] claimed that NewsGuard is an extremely biased neoconservative plot to discredit independent news sources while being unable to cite credible sources that do not have a history of spreading fake news. NewsGuard themselves have rated several neoconservative sites as red. This is due to the fact that in 2019, NewsGuard rated MPN with a red rating. In response to this, MPN wrote an article titled "A Biased News Newsguard Honors MintPress with "Red" Rating: Here's Our Point by Point Response".[13] The article did nothing to increase their credibility, for their failed fact checks are not difficult to spot,[14] but it did update their Nutrition Label in which the rating remained unchanged but with citations and even more points against its credibility and the points raised by them in their article.
  • RT, a well-known Russian propaganda site, wasn't very happy that everyone using Microsoft Edge (which is a lot) will now see a red shield appear over their links making anyone reluctant to go to their sites. Their reputation has always been credulous, but when it is immediately revealed to nearly every Microsoft Edge user, it was a bit too much for them to ignore.
  • Chinese Communist Party propagandist Ian Goodrum is pissed that CGTN was given a red shield (his meme was outdated as both the Epoch Times and Breitbart were demoted).[15]

Questionable ratings[edit]

  • The Daily Mail has been rated 77 and given a Green shield. However, it has failed numerous fact checks, uses sensational headlines, and has spread conspiracy theories.[16] Presumably, The Guardian headline “Don’t trust Daily Mail website, Microsoft browser warns users”[17] motivated some executive to get in touch. A Daily Mail spokesperson at the time called NewsGuard’s rating “this egregiously erroneous classification.”[18]
  • Wikileaks has been rated 44.5 and given a Red shield. Although it has had a 100% accuracy rate and is just a data archive, it failed several criteria for transparency. Wikileaks accused them for being CIA neocon shills.[19]
  • Drudge Report has been rated 70 and given a Green shield, but has failed a lot of fact checks.[20]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. Newsguard extension for Firefox.
  2. Newsguard extension for Google Chrome.
  3. Newsguard extension for Microsoft Edge.
  4. Newsguard extension for Safari.
  5. Newsguard app for Android.
  6. Newsguard app for iOS.
  7. Newsguard, Media Bias/Fact Check.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Rating Process and Criteria, NewsGuard.
  9. Updates to Ratings — NewsGuard
  10. See Feedback from Publishers — NewsGuard
  11. NewsGuard, Media Bias/Fact Check
  12. Mint Press News, Media Bias Fact Check.
  13. A Biased News Newsguard Honors MintPress with "Red" Rating: Here's Our Point by Point Response by Mnar Muhawesh (CEO) and Whitney Webb (15th Jan 2019) Mint News Press
  14. Mint Press News - Media Bias/Fact Check
  15. Ian Goodrum, Twitter, 28 September 2019.
  16. Daily Mail, Media Bias Fact Check.
  17. Jim Waterson, Don’t trust Daily Mail website, Microsoft browser warns users. The Guardian, 23 January 2019.
  18. James Walker, Mail Online hits out at US media start-up for 'egregiously erroneous' trust rating equal to Sputnik and RT. pressgazette.co.uk, 23 January 2019.
  19. WikiLeaks on Twitter, 14 January 2019.

    Microsoft adds neocon app "NewsGuard" to its Edge webrowser by default pushing U.S. security state news imperialism across the world. Gives green tick rating for Voice of America & Fox News but red mark for @WikiLeaks despite admitting perfect accuracy.

  20. Drudge Report, Media Bias Fact Check.