I spoke with NewsTrust executive director Fabrice Florin by email to learn more about how he and his team plan to leverage crowdsourcing to fact-check the 2012 elections. For more on traditional fact-checking, see my interview with Factcheck.org's Brooks Jackson.
NewsTrust is shifting its emphasis, from filtering and aggregating quality journalism from other sources to crowdsourced fact-checking. Tell me more about NewsTrust, about what you have been doing, and why you decided to shift your focus.
NewsTrust helps people find good journalism online, so they can make more informed decisions as citizens. We're nonprofit, nonpartisan, and committed to factual information, news literacy and civic engagement. NewsTrust.net, our social news network, features a daily feed of quality news and opinions from mainstream and independent sources, based on ratings from our reviewers.
Our Web review tools enable the public to evaluate accuracy, fairness, context, and other core journalistic principles -- and help people become more discerning news consumers in the process. Since we launched our site in 2006, we have attracted a growing community of citizens, students, educators, and journalists, who share a passion for quality news and information, serving over 1.3 million visitors last year. Our media partners include the Washington Post, USA Today, and PBS NewsHour -- and our educational partners include Stanford University, Stony Brook, and Towson University, to name but a few.
We're proud of what we've accomplished over the last five years, but news sharing on the Web is now shifting to large social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, reducing the need for curated news sites like NewsTrust.net. Instead, we see an emerging need for quality fact-checking services and collaborative evaluation tools, which we think we can effectively provide by extending our innovative social media platform to serve partner communities on their sites.
As a result, NewsTrust is now pivoting from a standalone news curation site to a consultancy that will serve the needs of larger partners and help their communities become better informed about important public issues. Our initial focus will be on fact-checking services to expose misinformation in the public debate. We will also explore partnerships that enable us to provide news literacy and civic engagement services through popular consumer and educational channels.
With your latest project, Truthsquad, you are leveraging crowdsourcing to fact-check political claims. Can you explain to readers what that means in a nutshell?
Truthsquad is a new pro-am fact-checking service we are developing with the Center for Public Integrity, to help journalists and citizens separate fact from fiction together.
We are combining the best practices of crowdsourcing with the knowledge of a large nonprofit newsroom and the reach of major news partners. This unique approach empowers citizens to collaborate with journalists to investigate controversial statements from politicians and newsmakers. Participants are invited to post questionable claims online, research factual evidence supporting or opposing these claims, and verify their accuracy as a community, with professional oversight.