NewsCred, a slightly different, slightly more 2.0 approach to aggregating current news, launched today in public beta.
It appears to have truly nifty media literacy potential. It also packs powerful convenience punch. I’ll likely share this one with those teachers who glaze over when they hear me even whisper the letters RSS.
Here’s how the news aggregator describes itself:
NewsCred is a digital newspaper that will give you all the world’s credible news in one place. We aggregrate news from hundreds of mainstream media sources, as well as established blogs, and let our users personalize their digital newspaper within seconds, without any fuss. Our community votes on the crediblity of articles, authors and news sources, and we apply our CredRank algorithms to ensure you only get the highest quality news from the sources you love.
The NewsCred folks describe their initial recipe for selecting sources from which we get to choose:
- 3 Tbsp – We took the 100 biggest newspapers by circulation worldwide and extracted all the English language ones.
- 1 Tpsp – We then took the top 50 US newspapers.
- 2 Cups – We combined that list with the top 100 blogs ranked by Technorati.
- 1 Sprinkle – We then mixed in some recommendations from friends, family, bloggers and the NewsCred blog community.
The site allows users to customize and organize news in a three column arrangement and to customize specific choices for a variety of news categories: breaking news, world, U.S., U.K, Europe, Asia, technollogy, business, sports, entertainment.
- The left column displays the news sources you select from among a wide variety of mainstream and international English-language news sources. It’s a huge list and your local major daily is likely among the choices.
- The middle column displays the blogs you select from among that Technorati list. The list includes Read/WriteWeb, Mashable, TechCrunch, favorites for the edtechers among us, as well as the usual political suspects, like the Huffington Post. (I kinda wish there were more blog choices available, but I do have other readers.)
- The right column offers the choices for customization.
- A section on the bottom right organizes news stories from individual countries in today’s news.
The social networking element here is that users may choose to credit or discredit each article, journalist, or news source, contributing to overall credibility rankings and growing detailed analytics. Every article, author, and news source will have a CredRank between 1-100, with 100 being the highest. Credible or not credible indicators will display on each article.
The site explains:
The Social Media Revolution is what NewsCred is all about. We feel passionate about using the power of the web to restore credibility in news media. With all the news sources, mashups, blogs and aggregators available today, it is becoming increasingly difficult to discriminate between real vetted news and biased, unfactual or untenable news. NewsCred will harness the power of our community and the social web to allow the discerning news consumer to focus only on credible news content while filtering out the noise. At the same time, NewsCred is a tool that will make the news experience more relevant to our personal tastes. To us, this is a revolutionary new way of accessing high quality, credible news content.
Will this system serve to help us identify credibility? Can we trust the wisdom of the crowd as it relates to rating news? I wonder.
We worried about the credibility of Wikipedia articles. But as that database grew the checks got better and article quality improved. (Though I still use the source critically and for certain tasks far less or more than others.)
I can see us examining and discussing the credibility of NewsCred’s analytics themselves with our students. It will be interesting to keep an eye on which stories and which journalists get the best and the worst rankings. Will their ranking be based on accuracy or research background or slant or some yet to be defined criteria the community will opt to employ? What will happen to those journalists who are less than politically correct? Too right or left leaning? Who is the audience for this site and what is the quality of its judgment?
The developers discuss the issues of community credibility ranking:
We agree that not everyone can know if every article is credible or not. We don’t expect that. However, we truly believe that being a newsreader is qualification enough to voice your opinion. And if enough members of our community take the time to participate and vote, we can get it right. We have an extremely diverse, independent and intelligent community. That means that some people might know more about certain topics than others. Some users may have local knowledge, while others may be working in a certain industry, or some may generally follow certain news genres more than others.
And they share some lofty and innovative goals for their analytics:
Furthermore, by publishing this data, we can hold the news media industry accountable for providing its readers with the highest quality content. Finally, NewsCred will be the first public database of journalists, along with their profiles, history of articles, comments, and credibility track records.
Exploring credibility is a huge part of our mission and our standards. This is definitely one I will be sharing with students and teachers this fall.