Mar 5, 2018 - Economy

Coming this fall: "nutrition labels" for news


The Baltimore Sun is the alma mater of some of history's most famous political journalists, and had its agenda-setting coverage featured on "The Wire." ... The Denver Guardian has published fictional stories and isn't a newspaper. ... National Review is provocative and consistently conservative.

The big picture: Those thumbnail descriptions, provided first to Axios, are examples of the consumer-friendly online guides (with green, yellow and red ratings) coming from NewsGuard, co-founded by journalists and media entrepreneurs Steven Brill and Gordon Crovitz.


  • NewsGuard is scheduled to launch in October, in time for the congressional midterms, with 7,500 Nutrition Labels for websites, covering what NewsGuard says is "98% of all news and information consumed and shared online in the U.S."
  • The co-founders announced Monday that they have raised $6 million, and they plan to hire dozens of trained journalists as analysts. The lead investor, in a group of 18 investors, is the ad giant Publicis Groupe.
  • What's planned, according to Brill, the founder of The American Lawyer, Court TV, and Brill’s Content magazine: “Our goal is to help solve this problem now by using human beings — trained, experienced journalists — who will operate under a transparent, accountable process to apply basic common sense to a growing scourge that clearly cannot be solved by algorithms.”
  • Why it matters, from Crovitz, a former Wall Street Journal publisher: “In addition to alerting people to fake news, one of our key goals is to help consumers, including young people, know when to take news from certain sites with a grain of salt."
  • What's next: The partners say NewsGuard will eventually expand to other countries.

Here are the opening lines of several sample NewsGuard Nutrition Labels (NGNLs™):

  • "The website of a news organization with a rich history, founded in 1837 as a newspaper serving the metropolitan area in and around Baltimore, Maryland."
  • "A site that seems like a traditional newspaper site, but is not actually associated with any newspaper or other newsgathering organization."
  • "An advocacy journalism website associated with the fortnightly National Review magazine, founded in 1955 by conservative intellectual William F. Buckley, Jr., that produces serious, provocative reporting and commentary with an unabashed, consistent conservative point of view."
  • "The website of the U.S. Government Accountability Office, created to be an independent, non-partisan agency working for the U.S. Congress that audits and evaluates the operations of all federal agencies."
  • "The website of the New York-based Commonwealth Fund, a non-profit research and policy advocacy organization focusing on healthcare."
  • "The website for National Public Radio (NPR), a Washington D.C.-based syndicator of news programs that are distributed to over 900 public radio stations in the United States."

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