NewsGuard Podcast Ratings FAQs
How did NewsGuard develop its criteria to rate podcasts?
NewsGuard’s criteria were developed by NewsGuard’s team of experienced journalists and editors. They are based on longstanding, widely accepted journalistic standards of credibility and transparency.
The criteria were adapted from NewsGuard’s rating criteria for news websites, drawing on many of the same principles and applying them to an audio format. Broadly speaking, the criteria focus on whether a podcast conveys egregiously false information on important topics; whether it does so repeatedly or only occasionally; whether the podcast is dominated by one-sided opinion; whether it discloses its political agenda, if it has any; and whether the podcast differentiates advertising and commercial partnerships from editorial content.
What and how much content does NewsGuard review before rating a podcast?
NewsGuard’s analysts review a sampling of podcast episodes over a three-month period from the time of review. This ensures the rating is based on a review of the podcast’s recent practices.
Additionally, our analysts browse and search a repository of episodes and episode transcripts from the past 90 days. If necessary, they conduct searches on noteworthy topics such as COVID-19 and elections to understand how each podcast covered top news topics, especially topics about which key facts are disputed or which are the subject of significant debate. Our analysts also look for important moments in a podcast’s recent history, such as recent controversies, retractions, awards and accolades, and examine corresponding audio clips. Before quoting, transcripts are always confirmed against original audio clips to ensure accuracy.
How often does NewsGuard update its ratings and Labels?
As a matter of practice, NewsGuard aims to review and refresh its ratings for all podcasts every six months. However, more frequent updates will occur if circumstances warrant — such as a change in ownership, a change in practices, or if the podcast wins an award or becomes embroiled in a controversy.
How does NewsGuard avoid bias, such as favoring one political ideology or party?
NewsGuard operates with full transparency and disclosure, with an identical approach to all podcasts. We use the same five criteria for rating all podcasts. These basic, apolitical criteria reflect basic principles of reliable journalism, whether for news-based podcasts or for opinion-based podcasts.
Our criteria are applied equally to all publishers regardless of political orientation, if any, and in the same way for a legacy podcast publisher as for a new, independent podcast publisher. In addition, if our reporting indicates that a podcast may fail any one of the criteria, our analysts contact the podcast for comment. If a representative for a podcast provides a comment about NewsGuard’s rating, that comment is included in the Podcast Nutrition Label, giving the publisher an opportunity to explain the podcast’s practices and make their point of view known.
NewsGuard has been credited as apolitical and fair in news reports by a variety of news organizations – liberal, middle of the road, and conservative. For that reason, NewsGuard is used by a wide range of governmental and nonprofit organizations as a source of credible, nonpartisan data about media trust, including the World Health Organization, and more than 800 public libraries provide their patrons with the internet browser extension version of our ratings and labels for websites.
Why should anyone trust NewsGuard?
- Because the leadership and staff of NewsGuard use basic, apolitical, criteria of journalistic practice for the ratings and because they are a group of trained journalists who have spent their careers dedicated to the profession. Steven Brill is one of America’s most respected magazine writers and non-fiction book authors. Gordon Crovitz was a highly regarded columnist for the Wall Street Journal editorial page—and The Wall Street Journal’s publisher. Our senior advisors in each country have similar backgrounds, such as our UK senior advisor who was a journalist at the BBC for 30 years, including as global news editor, and our Italian senior advisor who spent 30 years at ANSA (the Italian version of the AP), including as editor in chief. They and the journalists they have recruited care deeply about reliable journalism’s pivotal role in democracy.
- These experienced journalists come from diverse backgrounds and have no political axes to grind. In fact, you can see the credentials and backgrounds of everyone responsible for every NewsGuard Nutrition Label that you read.
- NewsGuard has an ethics and conflicts of interest policy that every analyst and editor has to agree to. Click to see the policy.
- NewsGuard is totally transparent about how all decisions are made. It discloses and explains in detail the criteria NewsGuard examines in order to rate each podcast on its journalistic practices. The Nutrition Label write-ups explain what’s behind each decision. NewsGuard is not a black box algorithm.
- NewsGuard makes concerted attempts to get comment from every podcasts’ editor or manager before NewsGuard writes anything negative about the publisher, and always include the comments in the podcast Nutrition Labels (or make changes after weighing the comment and realizing NewsGuard’s initial conclusion was wrong). Algorithms don’t call for comment.
- NewsGuard posts any complaints from podcast proprietors about anything that is written about them. And NewsGuard’s leaders answer them publicly – and when warranted will make corrections, publicly, after they consider the complaint.
- NewsGuard accepts no fees from the news podcasts for its ratings. NewsGuard’s revenue comes from the fees that technology companies such as access providers, platforms and search engines pay for licensing ratings; that advertisers, ad agencies and ad tech companies pay for brand-safety tools; and that cyber security entities pay for data to protect democracies from hostile information operations. Many websites cite their green rating in their About sections and run advertising explaining their NewsGuard ratings.
- Bringing more information to people about the news sources they encounter online is NewsGuard’s only business. The success of this venture depends entirely on being trustworthy and reliable.
Who is behind NewsGuard?
NewsGuard was launched by a team of experienced journalists, including the former publisher of The Wall Street Journal, the founder of The American Lawyer and Court TV, and former top editors at Reuters, the Associated Press, and the Chicago Tribune.
NewsGuard’s team includes a wide range of journalists and editors from diverse journalistic backgrounds in the countries in which we operate—currently, the U.S., Canada, U.K., Germany, France, and Italy. (NewsGuard has rated all the news and information websites that account for 95% of online engagement in each country.) Learn more about NewsGuard’s team.
NewsGuard’s team believes in transparency and accountability, so in addition to our team, all of our investors and advisors are disclosed prominently on our website.
How does NewsGuard make money?
NewsGuard makes money by licensing access to its database of independent ratings to technology companies, advertising agencies, educational organizations, cyber security entities and others that want to provide their customers, clients, teachers and students with a trusted source of information to distinguish credible news sources from untrustworthy sources.
Who owns and funds NewsGuard?
NewsGuard Technologies, Inc. is a privately owned corporation based in New York. A full list of our investors is available here.