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April 07, 2005

All the News You Can Trust

Rob Hof

Got an interesting survey recently from MoveOn.org. The online activist group is considering whether to set up an online news service that's filtered by both journalists and "citizen reviewers" for accuracy, fairness, credibility, and relevance. From the depth of the survey, it appears they're pretty serious. ...

Wes Boyd, MoveOn's cofounder and president, told me it's just an idea for now and may never come to pass. But he says one of the biggest concerns among MoveOn's 2 million members is media news coverage. "People feel traditional media is losing their way," he says. "Chasing entertainment value is the main thing, vs. a journalistic process." At the same time, he notes, with the proliferation of Weblogs and other "citizen media," "it's not clear how journalistic practices become a part of the Internet."

The project, headed by Fabrice Florin, CEO of the cell phone content provider Handtap Communications, would draft what Boyd says would be a nonpartisan, volunteer team of professional journalists and potentially thousands of citizen reviewers. They'd rate each news story and produce a daily selection of "news you can trust" on the Web and by e-mail. Boyd says he was shocked that the survey indicated half the respondents would volunteer, about five times the rate he expected. What's more, a lot of respondents said they'd pay $20 a year for the feed--plus extras such as personalized news feeds and the ability to publish one's own feed to share with others.

Given MoveOn's quite clear stands on many issues, can such a service avoid an echo-chamber effect? Boyd's not sure, though he hopes getting thousands of people involved might help ensure that divergent voices will be heard. No telling if he's right. But it's an interesting stab at using Internet tools to get readers more involved in the news.

02:41 PM

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