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Teaching ourselves some new tricks

As a media educator since the mid-90s, I often find that students come to the class with a very solid worldview and assess the quality of news less on its journalistic merit than on how closely it aligns with their own beliefs.

I've noticed the same is true for me as I get older -- and it's easy to read the news seeking reinforcement for what I already think. 

That is why the review process here at NewsTrust Baltimore is so great: it shakes up our expectations, and helps us look at journalism with a less jaded eye. By taking the time to break down a news story into its parts: the facts, the balance, the sources, the relevance, we give ourselves a chance to think more clearly about the news, and learn how to separate fact from opinion. In the end, we hope, we will become better informed and more thoughtful news consumers (and, for some of us, news producers).

This image does a great job of illustrating how easy it can be to jump to conclusions!


Image from the book "unSpun: Finding Facts in a World of Disinformation," by Brooks Jackson and Kathleen Hall Jamieson

Here are some ways to help you think differently as you evaluate stories:

Review stories using the "full rating" form. This is a selection in the drop-down menu at the top-right of the review form. Roll up your sleeves and dig in! With 10 thoughtful questions about the quality of the journalism, you will be analyzing the news like a pro in no time.

Leave a note. Sometimes justifying your observations is difficult. By leaving a note explaining why the story is good (or not so good) journalism, you help make your case. It's possible you may also discover that your review needs to be updated to reflect your notes (this happens to me often!). I see the notes as a way to keep ourselves honest: if you are willing to say it, then you can stand behind your rating. (If you have a personal opinion of the subject matter of the article, use the 'Comments' tab for your thoughts.)

Check out reviews by Tina Carroll, Michael Corbin, and Laura Perkins to see some great examples of thoughtful, critical reviews.

Read and comment on other reviews. We're working as a team to find the best local journalism. Even though we're all at separate desks, by commenting on (and rating) each other's reviews, we are collaborating on this experiment, and building a broader discourse on the journalism and news of our community.

Thank you all for welcoming NewsTrust Baltimore and getting involved. Please sign up if you have not done so, keep reviewing if you have, and tell your friends to join us!



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About NewsTrust Baltimore

  • NewsTrust Baltimore is a local news experiment that aims to help Baltimore residents find good journalism about their area. Our web review tools let you rate the news based on journalistic quality, not just popularity. We're non-profit, non-partisan, and committed to helping citizens make informed decisions about democracy. More »

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