The Nose Talks NewsTrust, New Media, and Local Journalism
The Nose found its shabby self down at the Harbor East tea bar Teavolve March 15, filling up on cheese cubes and hummus-schmeared pita triangles and balancing a beer, all while actually trying to think. We were there to chat up the social media types behind the NewsTrust Baltimore project–which we’ll get to in a bit–but first we had to do a little navel-gazing.
Organizers asked us to answer a question, “Why does Baltimore need good journalism?” We scratched our heads, then jotted a couple aphorisms with the markers and paper they handed out. NewsTrust Executive Director Fabrice Florin was on hand–he lives in San Francisco–and one of his jobs that night was to snap pictures, literally holding us to our words, with our comments held below our chins like mugshot IDs.
The experiment Florin leads, NewsTrust, is a six-year-old nonprofit journalism project whose stated goal is to elevate the best journalism–whether it’s published in traditional media or blogs–by using teams of reviewers and writers whose reputations increase as they prove to their peers their critical faculties. People submit stories, Digg- or Reddit-style; the stories are read, rated, and commented on. The best-reported, best-researched, most-fair, etc., hopefully, rise to the top. There are no anonymous commenters on NewsTrust, there are no flame wars, no burying, no games. Just recently, for example, NewsTrust led us to an excellent article in Ars Technica, explaining the nuclear crisis in Japan.
It’s actually kinda refreshing when contrasted with the internet’s anarchic, anonymous opinion-overloaded landscape.
We’ve come to appreciate the Baltimore NewsTrust site because we often get good feedback on our stories. A couple weeks ago, we signed on as a NewsTrust partner, along with several other local media outlets, which means we’ll help their mission promoting good local journalism. Other partners include the city’s major news outlets, a few respected blogs, and a handful of local colleges. News Trust got its startup money from the Open Society Foundations, and recently won a few more months of funding.
Since February, Baltimore is the first city to use the model for local news, and it’s been catching on in journalism circles.
So we’re curious to see whether it gets traction beyond journalism, think tank, and college circuits. In short, will NewsTrust end up a go-to source for local news? We’re watching.
Oh, and the placards? Amid the snarls about corruption and appeals to citizenship someone wrote simply, “Because we deserve it.”