NewsGuard Debuts News Website Reliability Index, Creating the First Benchmark for Measuring News Reliability and Media Consumption Habits

Researchers at Dartmouth College, Indiana University, and the University of South Florida will use NewsGuard’s Index in project to develop improved content recommendation algorithms for social media platforms

(NEW YORK, November 13, 2019) – As researchers, policy makers, technology companies, and other institutions continue to grapple with how to reduce the prevalence of untrustworthy news online, NewsGuard is providing a resource to define, measure, and promote quality news. 

The News Website Reliability Index provides an independent benchmark for differentiating between generally reliable and generally unreliable news and information sites. Individuals and organizations studying misinformation, electoral integrity, media literacy, and other aspects of online news consumption habits will now have the first database of its kind to power their work. 

One such research project will use the Index to study how to improve the diversity of information circulating on social media platforms. This project is led by Brendan Nyhan from Dartmouth College, Giovanni Luca Ciampaglia from the University of South Florida, and Filippo Menczer and Alessandro Flammini from Indiana University. 

The team will examine the relationship between the quality of information to which people are exposed and individual characteristics such as political attitudes and reading behaviors. They plan to use NewsGuard’s News Website Reliability Index to help identify low- and high-quality information sources. These findings will help inform the design of new content recommendation algorithms intended to improve the quality of the news that is recommended to people on social media platforms.

“We’re delighted to be licensing our data to this distinguished team for this important project,” said NewsGuard co-CEO Steven Brill. “Although NewsGuard’s core purpose is to provide online news consumers around the world with guidance on the reliability of who is feeding them the news, we always knew that our human intelligence solution – having journalists of varied backgrounds study and assess the news and information sites responsible for ninety-plus percent of the news consumed in each country where we operate – would be a valuable data tool for researchers working on all aspects of the misinformation and disinformation crisis.” 

Nyhan and his co-authors have previously studied the prevalence of exposure to untrustworthy websites and the means by which information from these outlets disseminates. Ciampaglia, Menczer, and Flammini have explored the cognitive, social, and algorithmic factors that make social media and its users vulnerable to manipulation, for instance through social bots that impersonate humans and amplify the spread of misinformation. 

“We are excited to license these data from NewsGuard,” Nyhan said. “The News Website Reliability Index offers what appears to be the most comprehensive data on website credibility that has been assembled to date. We expect that it will prove essential in our research.”

In a similar case, the University of Michigan Center for Social Media Responsibility integrated NewsGuard’s Index into its Iffy Quotient tool earlier this year.

The center’s Iffy Quotient measures the percentage of the most popular news URLs on a platform that are from “iffy” sites—ones that frequently publish unreliable information. The researchers chose to replace their previous data sources with NewsGuard’s Index, enabling them to use data that was more transparent and comparable over time. (Read more about this collaboration here.

“NewsGuard was founded to fight misinformation and restore trust in the media,” said Sarah Brandt, NewsGuard’s Vice President of News Literacy. “As we continue to work toward that goal, it’s encouraging that our data can help other organizations and academics more effectively take on these pressing issues.”

Those interested in using NewsGuard’s Index should contact Brandt at sarah.brandt@newsguardtech.com.

 NewsGuard Background: 

Launched in March 2018 by media entrepreneur Steven Brill and former Wall Street Journal publisher Gordon Crovitz, NewsGuard provides credibility ratings and detailed “Nutrition Labels” for thousands of news and information websites. 

NewsGuard rates all the news and information websites that account for 96% of online engagement in the U.S. and also operates in the U.K., Germany, France and Italy. 

NewsGuard rates each site based on nine apolitical criteria of journalistic practice, including whether a site repeatedly publishes false content, whether it regularly corrects or clarifies errors, and whether it avoids deceptive headlines. It awards weighted points for each criterion and sums them up; a score of less than 60 earns a “red” rating, while 60 and above earns a “green” rating, which indicates it is generally reliable. 

NewsGuard’s ratings and Nutrition Labels can be licensed by internet service providers, browsers, news aggregators, and social media and search platforms in order to make NewsGuard’s information about news websites available to their users. These ratings are made available to consumers through its browser extension, which is available on Chrome, Safari, Edge, and Firefox browsers, and on mobile devices through the Edge mobile browser for iOS and Android devices. Hundreds of libraries globally use NewsGuard’s free media literacy browser extension on their public-access computers to give their patrons more context for the news they encounter online.

For more information, including to download the browser extension and review the ratings process: visit newsguardtech.com.

Steven Brill, Co-CEO, steven.brill@newsguardtech.com, +1 212-332-6301
Gordon Crovitz, Co-CEO, gordon.crovitz@newsguardtech.com, +1 212-332-6407
Sarah Brandt, Vice President of News Literacy Program, sarah.brandt@newsguardtech.com, +1 212-332-6316