Thursday, November 30, 2006 is now up and running

Where do you get your news from?

If you're like me, there are a whole bunch of ways to get hold of what's happening in the world. There's on-line, newspapers, print magazines, TV, word-of-mouth, news releases, the company newsletter -- the list goes on and on.

The scale can be intimidating. And it's hard to figure out whether you're reading a balanced, fair perspective, or a one-sided rant based on questionable assumptions or even outright falsehoods.

Lately, I've been participating in an experiment that combines the higher ideals of the new citizen journalist movement with traditional news outlets. It's called and the public beta of the website launched a couple of days ago.

The premise is simple. compiles stories from around the world on a variety of topics and posts them on their site. Then members review the stories and rate them, adding comments, if they like. Ideally, the result will clarify the neutrality of a piece, based on accepted standards of ethical journalism.

Here's how the site describes the process:

In recent years, the consolidation of mainstream media, combined with the rise of opinion news and the explosion of new media outlets, have created a serious problem for democracy: many people feel they can no longer trust the news media to deliver the information they need as citizens.

To address this critical issue, NewsTrust is developing an online news rating service to help people identify quality journalism - or "news you can trust." Our members rate the news online, based on journalistic quality, not just popularity. Our beta website and news feed feature the best and the worst news of the day, picked from hundreds of alternative and mainstream news sources.

This non-profit community effort tracks news media nationwide and helps citizens make informed decisions about democracy. Submitted stories and news sources are carefully researched and rated for balance, fairness and originality by panels of citizen reviewers, students and journalists. Their collective ratings, reviews and tags are then featured in our news feed, for online distribution by our members and partners.

Note that the ratings are supposed to be based on "journalistic quality," not just popularity. That's been one of my complaints about some of the similar news sites, where people can vote for stories they like. In theory, NewsTrust has different standards.

It's an interesting idea and if it works it will add some clarity to some pretty large issues facing the world. And while the focus of the site may be U.S.-based, the more Canadians and others that participate, the more influence we'll have.

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