More Than 2,100 Websites Improve their Journalism Trust Practices Through NewsGuard’s Rating Process
A total of 2,141 news and information websites have improved their journalism practices after engaging with NewsGuard, increasing their accountability and providing readers with more trustworthy news and information, NewsGuard announced.
These websites, which represent 25.4 percent of the 8,414 sites rated by NewsGuard since its launch in 2018, have raised their reliability scores by implementing NewsGuard’s nine objective and nonpartisan criteria, including gathering and presenting information responsibly; labeling opinion articles to distinguish them from news; publishing transparent corrections; and identifying content creators and those in charge of editorial content.
The publishers who have improved these and other credibility and transparency practices after engaging with NewsGuard span the news and information spectrum, and include:
- A French health news website that met the standard for gathering and presenting news responsibly after adding a note to homeopathy stories stating that the underlying science for such treatments is not proven.
- A prominent U.S. news and opinion website that instituted more consistent corrections practices.
- A US site that covers financial markets and other news for investors informed readers that all of its coverage contains some opinion.
- A French news and fact-checking site that began separating its opinion content from news content.
- A U.S. website aimed at medical professionals that began to publish transparent corrections.
- A large U.S. newspaper chain, most of whose websites added ownership details in a user-friendly manner. These sites now receive a top score of 100 points.
- A Vatican publication that added information about its editorial leadership and content creators.
- A daily Italian newspaper that changed its rating from Red to Green by meeting the standard for gathering and presenting news responsibly, labeling opinion, and disclosing its ownership.
- A right-leaning U.S. website that added information about its editorial leadership and staff.
- A U.S. technology website that disclosed its ownership, labeled advertising clearly, and added corrections.
- A left-leaning U.S. web newsletter that disclosed its ownership and progressive point of view, and added biographical information for content creators, raising its score by 25 points before its Nutrition Label was published.
- A major U.S. metropolitan newspaper that added ownership disclosure.
- An Italian site for educators that disclosed its ownership and editorial leadership.
“We’re pleased that more than one quarter of the news and information websites we’ve rated have shown enough interest in serving their readers, and a commitment to better journalism practices, to change their practices to score higher via NewsGuard’s apolitical criteria ratings,” said NewsGuard co-CEO Steven Brill. “Put another way: These publishers ‘gamed’ our system, but this is a feature, not a bug. Unlike the opaque and unaccountable methods of Silicon Valley, we want publishers to know their scores, and we want them to improve those metrics. Improving journalism practices benefits readers and democracies in all the markets we serve.”
When NewsGuard determines that a website does not meet one or more of its criteria, a journalist contacts the publication to inform an editorial manager or owner about deficiencies, tells interested sites how they can be rectified, and provides the opportunity for comment. This is an ongoing process that occurs before the publication of a website’s “Nutrition Label,” as well as during routine annual updates; during reviews resulting from news that affects a site; or when a site itself changes its practices.
Many sites that have improved their journalism practices have touted their higher NewsGuard ratings to their readers. For example, MetroTimes.com, a Detroit-based alternative weekly publication, wrote a story about its higher NewsGuard score in August 2022, after it began to disclose its liberal agenda in the website’s About section and achieved 100/100 points. “We’re pleased to report that Detroit Metro Times, the alternative newsweekly that has served metro Detroit for more than 40 years, was recently granted top marks by NewsGuard,” the website stated. “Not bad for a scrappy little alt-weekly!” the site wrote, before comparing its high score with lower-rated “mainstream” media outlets.
SiecleDigital.fr’s editor-in-chief, Valentin Blanchot, touted the outlet’s 100/100 score on LinkedIn in August 2022, after the French global technology site improved its rating by labeling opinion articles. “This summer, we answered a series of questions about the overall functioning of our media, its method of financing, its independence,” Blanchot wrote. “This highlighted a few areas of improvement for our readership that we applied. In particular, the establishment of an ‘opinion’ label to identify the columns, which do not follow the same editorial rules as journalists.”
Other websites have also conveyed their trustworthiness to readers by including their 100-point NewsGuard rating on their About pages, or informing readers in other ways. For example, The Economist, the British financial and news magazine founded in 1843, informs prospective subscribers that its website “adheres to all nine of NewsGuard’s standards of credibility and transparency.”
FactAndFurious.com, a French fact-checking website, boasted about its 82.5 score from NewsGuard, before implementing other changes, including labeling opinion content, to reach 100 points. Hong Kong Free Press, an independent, nonprofit news site, informed its readers about achieving a perfect 100 point score in a March 2020 editorial. Wick Communications, a family-owned company with newspapers in the U.S. Southwest and Midwest, now notes its 100-point rating on its local websites, including the Green Valley News and Sun in Green Valley, Arizona, and the Capital Journal, in Pierre, South Dakota.
“We live in a low-trust era, when there is less trust in the media, along with many other institutions, than in the past,” NewsGuard co-CEO Gordon Crovitz said. “One of NewsGuard’s missions is to help news consumers know which news publishers are generally trustworthy and to help these generally trustworthy publishers re-establish trust from their readers and viewers by showing how they meet the nine criteria of journalistic practice that we assess. In contrast, we have identified thousands of popular websites that only masquerade as trustworthy news sites, including many sites operated by authoritarian governments, as well as sites with secret political funding or that promote dangerous health-care hoaxes. We are delighted that our scoring process has helped so many publishers show their trustworthiness to their consumers.”