Accuracy in Media

A new Wikipedia-style website was launched yesterday to provide information on journalists and to try to hold them more accountable for what they write.

According to the site, News Transparency helps you find out more about the people who produce the news and allows you to hold them accountable, the same way that journalists hold other powerful institutions accountable, by posting reviews and sharing information.

They will do this by allowing users to edit the profiles of journalists, add reviews, rate journalists and share their opinions on Facebook and Twitter.

The site says it exists because polls show that public distrust of the media is at a record level and that academic research shows that roughly half of newspaper stories contain errors.

That can also be backed up by the proliferation of correction boxes that have sprung up over the last few years in virtually every newspaper across the country to let the readers know where the papers goofed. The boxes are supposed to reassure readers that the paper takes mistakes seriously, but if they were really concerned then they would do a better job of teaching their reporters how to fact check and improve the newsroom’s copy-editing skills.

The site also “seeks to improve the accuracy, quality, and transparency of journalism by making it easier to find out about the individual human beings who produce the news — human beings with opinions, relationships, history, and agendas.”

This should fit right in with President Obama’s pledge for transparency, though liberal journalists might not appreciate the extra scrutiny.

Beyond the basic goals of accuracy, quality and transparency, the site will hopefully also tackle the issue of bias which is perhaps the most insidious form of bad journalism today. Helping the public distinguish between straight news and opinion would be the greatest service the site could perform.

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