Rating Process and Criteria

NewsGuard employs a team of trained journalists and experienced editors to review and rate news and information websites based on nine journalistic criteria. The criteria assess basic practices of credibility and transparency. Based on a site’s performance on these nine criteria, it is assigned a red or green rating, indicating its credibility.

Learn more about NewsGuard’s ratings and criteria:

Rating Categories

Green: A website is rated green if it generally adheres to basic standards of credibility and transparency. (If the site adheres to all nine of our criteria, we note that in the rating. If it has significant exceptions among the criteria, we note that too.)

Red: A website is rated red if it generally fails to meet basic standards of credibility and transparency. (We note whether the site failed several of our nine criteria, or whether it severely violates journalistic standards by failing an especially significant number of criteria.)

Satire: A humor or satire site receive a satire rating, indicating that it is not a real news website. We do not rate these sites according to the nine journalistic criteria, but we do provide a description of each site including, if possible, who is behind it.

Platform: A site receives a platform rating if it primarily hosts user-generated content that it does not vet. Information from platform sites may or may not be reliable. We do not rate these sites according to the nine journalistic criteria, but we do provide a description of each site and its practices.

It is important to note that the only attribute that sites rated green have in common is that they did not fail to meet enough of the 9 criteria that they should be rated red. Not all sites rated green are equal. We note in each rating whether the site meets all of our criteria or whether there were some significant exceptions.

Rating Criteria

Here are the nine criteria that NewsGuard uses to assess websites. Each criterion is worth a certain number of points out of 100, as indicated below. A site with a score of 60 points or higher receives a green rating. A site with a score lower than 60 points receives a red rating.

In every case, the NewsGuard Nutrition Labels that are provided for each site (by clicking on the rating) spell out the site’s adherence to each of the nine criteria that yielded that source’s particular rating.

The criteria below are listed in order of their importance in determining a red rating. For example, failure to adhere to the first criteria—publishing false content—is more influential in determining a red rating than failure to reveal information about content creators.

Credibility

  • Doesn’t repeatedly publish false content: In the last three years the site has not produced multiple stories that have been found—either by journalists at NewsGuard or elsewhere—to be clearly false, and which have not been quickly and prominently corrected. (22 Points. A label with a score lower than 60 points gets a red rating.)
  • Gathers and presents information responsibly: Content providers are generally fair and accurate in reporting and presenting information. They reference multiple sources, preferably those that present direct, firsthand information on a subject or event or from credible second hand news sources, and they do not egregiously distort or misrepresent information to make an argument or report on a subject.  (18 Points)
  • Regularly corrects or clarifies errors: The site makes clear how to report an error or complaint, has effective practices for publishing clarifications and corrections, and notes corrections in a transparent way. (12.5 Points)
  • Handles the difference between news and opinion responsibly: Content providers who convey the impression that they report news or a mix of news and opinion distinguish opinion from news reporting, and when reporting news, do not egregiously cherry pick facts or stories to advance opinions. Content providers who advance a particular point of view disclose that point of view. (12.5 Points)
  • Avoids deceptive headlines: The site generally does not publish headlines that include false information, significantly sensationalize, or otherwise do not reflect what is actually in the story. (10 Points)

Transparency

  • Website discloses ownership and financing: The site discloses its ownership and/or financing, as well as any notable ideological or political positions held by those with a significant financial interest in the site, in a user-friendly manner. (7.5 Points)
  • Clearly labels advertising: The site makes clear which content is paid for and which is not. (7.5 Points)
  • Reveals who’s in charge: Information about those in charge of the content is made accessible on the site. (5 Points)
  • The site provides the names of content creators, along with either contact information or biographical information: Information about those producing the content is made accessible on the site. (5 Points)

Rating Process

Our rating process is designed to ensure our nine journalistic criteria are applied fairly and accurately to all sites, regardless of the site’s topic, tone, or political leaning if any.

  1. A NewsGuard analyst assesses the contents of the site against our nine criteria. Our analysts are trained journalists who conduct reporting to determine relevant details of the website’s ownership, financing, credibility, and transparency practices.
  2. The analyst drafts a written “Nutrition Label” for the site based on their reporting. Nutrition labels consist of a grid showing the site’s performance on each of the nine criteria and a written explanation of the content on the site, who’s behind it, and why it received its rating.
  3. We call the website for comment. If a NewsGuard analyst believes a site may fail one or more of the nine criteria, it is NewsGuard’s practice to contact the website’s proprietor to attempt to seek comment before publishing the rating. If the website provides a comment, that comment is included in the written assessment of the site to provide users with the website’s perspective.
  4. The rating is reviewed and fact-checked by experienced editors. At least one additional analyst, one senior editor, and NewsGuard’s co-CEOs review every Nutrition Label prior to publication to ensure that the rating is as fair and accurate as possible.
  5. The site receives a red or green rating based on the nine journalistic criteria. NewsGuard ratings involve human judgment to assess a site’s performance on each of the nine criteria. But the site’s red or green rating is determined solely based on the nine criteria.
  6. We update Nutrition Labels periodically. NewsGuard periodically updates its rating of each site. If a site changes its practices, its performance on one or more of NewsGuard’s nine criteria may change. Hundreds of websites have improved their transparency or credibility practices as a result of NewsGuard’s rating process. Such updates are noted in an editor’s note on the Nutrition Label and summarized each week here.
  7. We practice accountability and show our work. Each Nutrition Label contains the names of the writer and editors who worked on the rating. The backgrounds of the analysts and editors named, as well as those of the supervising editors, can be found by clicking on their names or going to the Our Team page of this website. If a website disagrees with NewsGuard’s rating for its site, it can write a response or complaint using NewsGuard’s contact page. Any such complaints will be published on NewsGuard’s website here and linked from the site’s Nutrition Label.

Criteria Weighting

Each of the nine criteria is assigned a certain number of points, as noted in the section above. The points add up to 100. A website that scores fewer than 60 points is rated red.​

Note: The weighting of these criteria may change as we receive feedback and continue to develop our process​. When such changes are made they will be noted here.

Criteria Weighting Points:

Criteria Points
Doesn’t repeatedly publish false content 22
Gathers and presents information responsibly 18
Regularly corrects or clarifies errors 12.5
Handles the difference between news and opinion responsibly 12.5
Avoids deceptive headlines 10
Website discloses ownership and financing 7.5
Clearly labels advertising 7.5
Reveals who’s in charge 5
The site provides the names of content creators, along with either contact information or biographical information 5