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Thursday, October 30, 2008

'Source tagging' will help readers find news they want and trust

From time to time I make noises about adding context to news stories by including a reference/source list - who was spoken to, what documents, books, websites were referenced, even who initiated the story.

So I was chuffed today to read about a project under way to develop 'source tagging' technology.

Called Transparent Journalism, the project is the brainchild of Sir Tim Berners Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, and Martin Moore, director of the Media Standards Trust. It's being funded by the Knight Foundation's News Challenge programme and is consulting the BBC and Reuters about how to include 'source tagging' in reporters' daily workflows.

Here's the summary:

"With the copious amounts of information – and misinformation – on the Internet, the public needs more help finding fair, accurate and contextual news. This project will create a system to do just that.

"The plan: to design a way for content creators to add information on their sources to their reports, as a form of “source tagging.” For instance, a reporter could note that an article was based on personal observations, interviews with eyewitnesses or specific, original documents. Filters would then use this data - the “story behind the story” - to help find high-quality articles.

"A reader searching the phrase “Pakistan riots” for example, might find 9,000 articles. But filtering by “eyewitness accounts” would yield a more selective list."
This is a timely and hugely welcome development, in my view. Credibility is an increasingly valuable commodity online and this kind of transparency will help readers find news they can use, news they trust, and let them easily check the facts behind the news when they want to.

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