Introducing source reviews on NewsTrust

Today we're pleased to announce a new NewsTrust feature: You can now rate or review news sources on our site, in much the same way as you review individual stories. If reviewing a story is comparable to rating individual dishes at a restaurant, then source reviews are like rating the restaurant itself -- like you might do on Google, Yahoo or Yelp.

Source reviews combine a quick trust rating with a thoughtful note about the source's journalistic strengths, weaknesses and areas of expertise.

We've already begun using valuable information our users have added to calculate these trust ratings, and we encourage you to refine your ratings of news sources whose work you're familiar with.

This feature has two key applications: source reviews and rating your sources.


Source reviews 

To review a source, click on its name anywhere on the site to go to that source's profile page. Then fill in the "Review this source" form in the middle of that page.

The source review form has three parts:

  • Rate it: Do you trust this publication? (Rate it on a scale from 1 to 5.)
  • Add a note: What are this source's strengths and weaknesses?(Write an open-ended comment.)
  • Expertise: Which topics is this source an expert on? (Click all that apply -- or add more topics in the box below.) 


To review a source, click on its name anywhere on the site to go to that source's profile page. Then fill in the "Review this source" form in the middle of that page. Once you've saved your review, you can go back and edit it anytime. 

You will also see reviews from other members on source pages:

For more detailed information on source reviews, check out our FAQ


Rate your sources

On our "rate your sources" page, you can rate our most popular news sources all in one place. Each source has a quick-rating area, where you can rate a news outlet on a scale of 1 to 5. You may see that some are already filled out; that's feedback you've already given us. If your ratings have changed as you've read more news, please update them and add more!



Thanks to our team

We'd like to thank Engineering Manager Subbu Sastry and Designer Caleb Waldorf for their hard work on these applications. Executive Director Fabrice Florin and Managing Editor Jon Mitchell also played key roles in development, and the NewsTrust team is excited about the rollout of these features.

We welcome your feedback on these changes -- feel free to leave a comment below or send an email to feedback at newstrust dot net.

To jump to rating your sources, click on the badge below.


Thanks for your participation!


Reviewing multimedia journalism

Reviewing stories on NewsTrust Baltimore can be an interesting experience. By slowing down to read or watch a story carefully and answer specific questions about the quality of the journalism, we also teach ourselves how to look more critically at the information we consume.

In some cases, the stories lend themselves perfectly to our review tools. Other times, we may find there are additional questions that could be posed, or some that don't fit exactly right.

Lately, I am seeing a new challenge to reviewing stories -- the multimedia postings of several news outlets. In some cases, a primarily print and online news source, such as The Baltimore Sun, includes documentation video. Other times a television channel, such as WBAL, adds an edited or unedited transcript to its video online. And then there are more experimental sources, like What Weekly online, which uses photo journalism, video and type interchangeably.

An interesting discussion arose from a recent WJZ story, "Baltimore Journalist Missing In Libya," in which many reviewers focused on the text, which was a lightly edited transcript of the included video. It was interesting to see how much harder it was to comprehend the text, whereas watching the video gave inflection, tone, and context that added meaning to the story. 

In the case of the City Paper article "Watching the Watchers," the unedited footage from subject Leonard Kerpelman’s camera gives valuable background information on the court case. 

Here are some tips for reviewing multimedia stories:

  1. Review the story after reading, watching and listening to all media included in the story. This is ideal, as the producers intended all the media to be part of the story, and it will lend itself to the most accurate assessment of the journalism.
  2. Focus your review on the primary media type. Most sources have a primary media type that they use. For example, and audio clip from WYPR will most likely give you the full intended story.
  3. Use the 'Notes' window in the review form to review elements of the story that don't follow the standard review questions. It's easy to review facts and fairness, but what about sound quality, video editing, etc.? Your assessment of the multimedia elements of the story can help other reviewers to look more carefully at video and audio stories, too.

On the site, check out some good reviews by Don Bertschman, Asia S. Hinton and Sam Boyd that take the media types into account. I hope these examples inspire you to review more multimedia stories!


Hunting for science and technology news

In week three of the NewsTrust Baltimore pilot, we focused on coverage of science and technology topics. This news hunt ran from Monday, Feb. 14, through Sunday, Feb. 20.

NewsTrust members and staff highlighted a number of interesting stories during the week: a proposed $100 million fund for technology start-ups in Maryland, a group of computer hackers devoting time to help the citizens of Baltimore, and a presidential visit putting a spotlight on science education.

During the week, 36 stories related to science and technology were reviewed by the NewsTrust Baltimore community. Of those, 10 received a NewsTrust rating, and nine were considered above average. 

Recommended stories



Featured topic
Baltimore is a global center for medical research and has a growing tech startup scene, so it is not surprising we saw a steady stream of science and technology stories in the past week. The Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland are major centers for scientific research, and state funds have helped make them leaders in stem cell research. Now, as explained in this Baltimore Sun story, there is intense competition for state grants that can make or break high-stakes, high-cost research projects.

Seeking another tech-powered engine for the Maryland economy, Governor Martin O'Malley has proposed a $100 million fund to support bioscience and technology startup businesses. At the Center Maryland blog, Donald Fry has a thoughtful analysis of this proposal.

Also during the week, President Obama visited Parkville Middle School in Baltimore County to discuss his education budget plan and make a pitch for improved science education.

Led by the Baltimore Brew, several news outlets covered the city's first Civic Hack Day, an attempt to put techno-wizardry to work for Baltimore. North Baltimore Patch interviewed Mike Brenner, the organizer of the event.

Technology and online networks have helped topple dictators in Arab countries in recent weeks. Entrepreneur Dave Troy asked on his blog last week if similar forces could revolutionize Baltimore's political status quo. Be sure to check out the discussion on NewsTrust Baltimore around this provocative argument. 

Mobile electronic devices are everywhere these days, and Maryland legislators have been struggling to find ways to discourage drivers from enjoying too much of this technology while in traffic. Community member and Baltimore Freedom Academy teacher Andrew Pham wrote that a Baltimore Sun story on driving-and-texting laws offered a "great explanation of the issues, from multiple perspectives. I appreciated that there was a comparison to the use of cell phones and their penalties. I would have liked a better explanation of the procedures pertaining to passing the change to the law."

Another good review comes from Towson University student Melanie Losover, who commented on a story about green building practices: "While the article was definitely informative and got right down to the facts, I would have liked to see a little more detail behind each of the projects and how they will benefit each community. It was good that the author was able to get a quote from Governor O'Malley and another expert, but I would have liked to hear from someone living in one of the communities that is to benefit from this program."

Thanks to our community
We'd like to thank our community members and media and educational partners who helped find the stories that were part of this news hunt. If you are not yet a member of NewsTrust Baltimore, please sign up and join the experiment; your voice is needed and welcome.

This week, we're seeking good journalism in the culture and living categories. These sorts of stories are very important in a city that has more cultural riches than any one person has time to explore. What are some news sources that help you find what's most interesting? Let us know in the comments.

Please help us post and review stories on these topics -- the success of this social news experiment depends on the participation of members like you.

Thank you again, and see you on the site!


Help us find good journalism about culture and living

This week we're focusing on culture and life in the Baltimore area, and our guest host for these topics is Evan Serpick of Baltimore magazine. Evan is a senior editor at the magazine, and he'll be helping post and review related stories during the week. You'll also find his picks on the culture and living pages.

Over the weekend, we wrapped up a week that focused on science and technology coverage, and you can still review and rate those stories under the sci/tech and technology topics. We'll post a round-up of that news hunt later this week on the blog.

We depend on your participation to make this experiment a success -- please join us on the site!


Results of politics and Maryland Legislature news hunts

Omalley2 In our first week at NewsTrust Baltimore, we focused on politics and, specifically, the Maryland General Assembly. We asked the community to help us find good journalism on these topics, from Monday, Jan. 31, through Sunday, Feb. 6. We were fortunate to have a wonderful guest host, Howard Libit, a founder of Center Maryland, who previously worked at The Baltimore Sun as reporter and editor for 15 years.

It was a great week to talk about politics on NewsTrust Baltimore. In statewide news, Gov. Martin O'Malley gave his State of the State speech on Thursday, Feb. 3, and several key topics were up for debate in the General Assembly. We also had some interesting discussions surrounding Baltimore City politics, including stories on East Baltimore Development Inc., Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's plans for the city and a look at the selection process of City Council members. 

During the week, 74 stories about politics were reviewed by our community. Of those, 24 were rated and 23 were listed as "most trusted." 

Recommended stories
Here are some of our top rated stories on Baltimore politics last week:



Featured topic
We drilled down into the Maryland General Assembly during this week and found sources from across the state that had compelling things to say about the governor, the Assembly and state politics. 

Howard Libit, our host for this topic, sought and posted stories from a variety of sources, including the Hagerstown and Frederick newspapers, The Gazette community newspapers, as well as pieces from Baltimore heavyweights like The Baltimore Sun, WYPR and The Daily Record. Libit said of the experiment:

"While I have always been a consumer of a lot of different sources of news, looking at stories through the NewsTrust filter forced me to think more critically about what is being reported, what is missing, and how stories are written. It was definitely a useful exercise in fine-tuning how I think about coverage of news. I was pleasantly surprised to see so many different media outlets producing so many different quality stories."

Trusted member Christopher Siple pointed out a theme about Maryland's leadership in Baltimore Sun editorials, Kevin Moreno said that a column on Republian "rising stars" offered "brief but interesting perspectives on a group of legislators who stand poised to impact not only their party, but state policy as well," and Rebecca Ruggles offered some reasoned criticism of businesses' contributions to state funding.

In their reviews of other political stories last week, NewsTrust Baltimore community members also posted a number of thoughtful comments about The Daily Record's informative series of investigative reports on EBDI development, Sun Magazine's profile of Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and an editorial on police and firefighter unions in Baltimore City.

News comparison
We also put together a "news comparison" of State of the State coverage on Thursday afternoon, just a few hours after O'Malley's noon speech. We asked reviewers to rate and compare an Associated Press story, a Baltimore Sun blog post and a Washington Post story

The Washington Post story received the highest marks, with a rating of 3.8, and it had the most context and depth. The Baltimore Sun post had the second-highest rating, of 3.6, and the Associated Press piece had the lowest, at 2.7. However, we should take into account the time-stamps on the three stories: The Post story was last updated close to midnight that day, and it likely mirrors what was published in Friday's newspaper. (The URL was likely kept the same from earlier updates to later write-throughs.) The Baltimore Sun blog post was posted at 4 p.m. the day of the speech, and the Associated Press story was published just two hours after the speech ended. The longer time frames of the Post and Sun stories accounts in part for their context and depth, although two hours can be enough time to add in some quotes and analysis in the AP's case. 

Thanks to our reviewers
We'd like to thank all the NewsTrust community members who participated in helping post and review politics stories, and another big "thank you" to Howard Libit for his involvement. Covering such a key topic as politics in the first week of NewsTrust Baltimore's launch had its share of challenges, but we found some excellent journalism about Baltimore City and the state, and we'll continue to discuss politics throughout the pilot, even as we focus on other subjects. 

This week, we're seeking good journalism about business and real estate development, and we appreciate your involvement. If you haven't already, please sign up as a member of NewsTrust Baltimore; the success of this social news experiment depends on the participation of people like you. We're also making an effort to ramp up our coverage of independent sources and their work, and we encourage you to post stories from sources we may not yet be aware of. 

Thank you again, and see you on the site!


Photo Credit: The Baltimore Sun

This blog post was updated on Feb. 16 and Feb. 24, 2011, to correct the number of stories included in this news hunt. 


This week's topics: real estate and development

Happy Monday! Last week, with your help, we discussed and reviewed some excellent stories about politics and the Maryland General Assembly. On Thursday, we put together a "news comparison" of coverage of Gov. Martin O'Malley's State of the State speech; we'll have the results from that later this week. You can still participate by reviewing the three stories, which are highlighted in the right sidebar of the Maryland Legislature page.

This week, even as that General Assembly conversation continues, we're shifting our editorial focus slightly to talk about business and, more specifically, real estate and development in the Baltimore area. The Daily Record just published an in-depth investigative series about the East Baltimore Development Inc., and I expect there will be some follow-up news this week. (By the way, check out the reviews and comments on those features -- there's some great conversation happening!) Development is always a great topic in Baltimore, as neighborhoods and blocks are constantly in flux, and we're starting to see development pick back up as the economy recovers.

Our host for this topic will be Jay Rickey, editor and publisher of Citybizlist Real Estate. Citybizlist was an early partner and supporter of NewsTrust Baltimore, and we're delighted to have Jay's help and expertise this week.

On a related note, I want to highlight an upcoming Baltimore Brew project, where editor Fern Shen is asking readers to discuss "the state of your block." Information about Baltimore's neighborhoods can be left in the comment field of that post. We'll keep an eye on this series and feature the final stories when they run the week of Feb. 28.

Thanks, as always, for your reviews and participation. We're off to a great start because of members like you!

Not a member yet? Click here to sign up for our free service!

-Mary Hartney, local editor


Some (not-so) secrets about making your reviews count

Gf1squaresm_bweller Hi there! We're so glad you have joined us for our local news experiment, NewsTrust Baltimore. I'm Gin Ferrara, the community manager for this project, and I will be writing a weekly blog post about you - the reviewers, consumers, educators, students, and editors of NewsTrust Baltimore. My job is to make sure that you have the support you need to fully participate in our search for good local journalism and become more critical news consumers and producers in the process. 

I'd like to start by sharing some (not-so) secrets with you: how to make your reviews count. You have gone to all that effort to read a story and thoughtfully rate its journalistic quality -- now what? Here are some things you can do to spread your influence and encourage others to review, too.

  1. Sign up and use your real name. To review on NewsTrust Baltimore, you first need to sign up, using your real name. To keep the site open and welcome -- we like to think of it as "a clean and well-lighted space" -- we need all of our guests, members and reviewers to put on their name tags and be who they really are. On the national NewsTrust site, we have found that this encourages folks to be both respectful and willing to stand behind their opinions.
  2. Fill out your complete profile. Once you've signed up, go back to "My Profile", and fill in all the information about yourself, on each tab, from "Account" through to "Contact Info." The more you Bluemanred
    share, the more transparent you become, and the more your reviews count! This is also a chance to share your credentials and expertise. Adding a picture is a part of being transparent, too, and will prevent you from appearing as a little blue alien in your reviews. And we think you'll find it's nice to connect faces to reviewers; it helps to have some real-world touch points. 
  3. Write a note and a comment with your review. To learn how to review, check our Quick Review Guide. At the bottom of the review form are the words "Expand your review." If you click on that, you will see a window for Notes, Exapndreview as well as Comments, Quotes and Links. Write one or two sentences on the Notes tab about why the article was/was not good journalism. A thoughtful comment about your personal feelings on the subject can be added on the Comments tab. Adding your favorite quote from the article and sharing links to more information on the Quotes and Links tabs will add even more information and will build a bigger discourse on the writing, the subject, and the perspectives of the Baltimore community. 

This week we've had some great reviews -- check out these insightful notes and comments by Khalilah Harris, Christopher Siple and Stacy Spaulding.  I'll be highlighting more reviewers and community members each week, so go ahead and jump right in!

Thank you again for being part of the NewsTrust Baltimore community. 


Help us find good journalism about politics

Welcome to NewsTrust Baltimore -- we're glad you're here! I'm the local editor for this site, and I'll be using this blog to talk about what's happening on NewsTrust Baltimore.

Each week, we'll be focusing on a different topic that's important to Baltimoreans, but we'll also be covering and talking about all topics and news as it breaks.

For this first week, our focus will be politics, and the timing is perfect; the General Assembly has just kicked off a new session and Gov. Martin O'Malley's annual State of the State speech is Thursday afternoon.

Howard Because politics is such a broad topic, and a popular topic on NewsTrust, we'll also zoom in to the Maryland Legislature. We're fortunate to have a knowledgable guest host for these topics: Howard Libit, a founder of Center Maryland. Center Maryland, a news site dedicated to finding "common ground on common sense policies where we can make progress," is one of our media partners for this NewsTrust pilot project. Howard was a reporter and editor at The Baltimore Sun for 15 years, and I had the pleasure of working with him there when he was the paper's top-ranking news editor.

Howard will be helping point to good journalism about politics in Baltimore and Maryland, and you'll find his thoughtful reviews and picks in the Politics and Maryland Legislature topics, as well as throughout the NewsTrust Baltimore site.

Please help us find the best journalism about politics in this area by posting and reviewing stories and making sure they're tagged with "Baltimore," "Politics" and "Maryland Legislature," where appropriate.

For more info about NewsTrust Baltimore, check out our announcement and our About page.

As always, thanks for your participation -- see you on the site!


Welcome to NewsTrust Baltimore!

Today, we are pleased to announce the launch of NewsTrust Baltimore, the first local news site from NewsTrust, our nonprofit social news network.

We invite you to join this online experiment, along with other Baltimore residents, to find and share good journalism about your community.

Why NewsTrust Baltimore?
The Internet has radically changed the way we get our news, introducing new problems for cities like Baltimore: Traditional media have reduced their local news coverage, new media startups are struggling to fill in the gaps, and social networks are flooding us with too much unreliable information.

To address these problems, NewsTrust Baltimore aims to feature on a single site the best news coverage in the region, selected from a wide range of local online, print and broadcast outlets. Our online news hub, which is funded by the Open Society Foundations, welcomes all Baltimore citizens to rate and discuss local news stories, in collaboration with NewsTrust editors -- and share the best reporting with each other.

Meet our team
I am delighted to introduce our local team, which will be leading this experiment for the next few months:

Mary Mary Hartney - Local Editor
Mary has been a journalist for nearly a decade, beginning as a newspaper copy editor and most recently serving as director of audience engagement at The Baltimore Sun. She is responsible for updating our site and managing relationships with our media partners. Check out her profile.

Gin Gin Ferrara - Community Manager
Gin has been a media educator since the early 1990’s and is the founder of Wide Angle Youth Media. She is responsible for supporting our online community and managing relationships with our educational partners. Check out her profile.

Our national NewsTrust team has worked hard to develop this site and community relations in the past few months, and will also participate actively in this pilot. They include: managing editor Jon Mitchell; lead engineer Subramanya Sastry; technology director David Fox; and yours truly, executive director Fabrice Florin.  

Meet our partners
For this project, we have partnered with a number of local news organizations, including the Baltimore Sun, Baltimore magazine, The Mark Steiner Show (WEAA-FM), Urbanite Magazine and WYPR-FM, as well as online sites, including Baltimore Brew, Center Maryland, Citybizlist and Baltimore-area Patch sites. These media partners will invite their audiences to participate in this interactive quest, and many will host special activities with us, as well as include NewsTrust feeds and widgets on their sites.

We are also partnering with several local colleges and high schools, including Towson University, the University of Maryland, Morgan State University, the Baltimore Freedom Academy and The Baltimore Civitas School. These educational partners will train their students to rate and curate the news on their own group pages, earning certificates for their work.

Our most important partner of all is the Open Society Foundations, especially its audacious team in Baltimore. We are particularly grateful to Lori McGlinchey, Diana Morris and Debra Rubino for their vision, insights and inspiring support of this project. Besides providing funding for NewsTrust Baltimore, they have participated actively as collaborators, introducing us to their community, and making us feel welcome in Charm City.

Meet our community
This experiment is first and foremost about Baltimore and its community. Already, hundreds of folks have contributed to this project, including local citizens, community leaders, advisors and partners, all of who took the time to share their thoughts with us and participate on our site. You can view some of their portraits on a special slide show we created for this project, Faces of Baltimore, as well as on our members page.

We think this initiative offers a unique opportunity for Baltimore citizens to become better informed and more engaged about local issues -- especially college and high school students. Our service will show them how to tell apart good journalism from misinformation, so they can become more discerning news consumers.


Join the experiment
We hope you will sign up and participate in this fascinating investigation of our local news ecosystem. With your support, we think this community-based social network can improve the way we get our local news and help us all make more informed decisions as citizens.

Give it a try -- and review a story today. This week, we are reviewing stories on politics -- as Mary explains in her blog post. Our two-month pilot only runs until the end of March 2011, so now is the time to get involved. We will release our first findings in April and give awards to news outlets that are providing high-quality reporting, as determined by our reviewers and editors.

Please join us on NewsTrust Baltimore. See you online!

Fabrice Florin
Founder and Executive Director
NewsTrust Communications


NewsTrust Baltimore: A local news experiment

Peoplepic_w300NewsTrust Baltimore is an online experiment to improve the way people get their local news, now under development at NewsTrust, with the generous support of the Open Society Foundations and OSI Baltimore.

Our goal for this news literacy project is to help Baltimore residents get better access to good journalism about their community -- and become more discerning news consumers in the process (especially university and high school students).

To that end, we will organize a two-month pilot in Baltimore due to launch next February 2011, based on a local version of the NewsTrust curation platform. Our special website will provide an online "story bank" where Baltimore residents can find good journalism about their area -- and share the best reporting with friends and neighbors.

5230678893_910f323504 During this pilot, a small team of professional editors will lead an online community of citizens, teachers, students, journalists and local experts to evaluate and promote the best local news coverage in their area. Participants will use the NewsTrust review tools to rate news stories based on journalistic qualities such as facts, fairness and context -- and learn to tell apart good journalism from misinformation.

Collectively, we will recommend news and opinions from a wide range of sources: mainstream and independent, commercial and public, national and hyper-local, ethnic or niche blogs -- in print, broadcast or online media. We will also track each source's expertise by topic.

5146596342_d18d9f7a29For this project, we will partner with several local universities and high schools -- as well as some of Baltimore's newspapers, radio and TV stations, bloggers, ethnic and nonprofit organizations. Our local news feeds will be featured on their websites as well, using our widgets.

This news hub and civic engagement network will give citizens a practical way to share good journalism on important issues such as politics, crime, education, justice, poverty, race and youth development. This will help raise public awareness about these issues, and identify informative news sources for each topic we cover.

In the process, we hope to make citizens more aware of their local news ecosystem, help them discover new sources of credible information, and start a discussion on how to improve the way Baltimore residents get their news.

We will post more information on our project page in coming weeks.


Support our work

NewsTrust is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people find quality news and information online. Read more about our initiative on our About page. If you are able, please consider a donation today, so we can keep providing more services like these to the public. Thank you!



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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