Monday, November 24, 2008

On a hunt for stories with News Trust

Last Wednesday my Reinventing the News class and I were introduced to News Trust.

With guidance from Mike LaBonte, the class was split into groups and we all evaluated one story using News Trust. The Independent, of London, printed this piece by their environment editor, called "A 'Green New Deal' can save the world's economy, says UN."

After scanning through the article a couple of times, my three group mates and I began to scrutinize it using the News Trust supplied evaluation sheet. Becoming a member of the website allows you to submit these judgements on articles and any other multimedia news posted on the Internet.

For the Independent piece we were unimpressed by the analysis of the proposition at the center of the article. We saw the piece and realized that it was one-sided -- basically cheer leading -- with only one or two sources who were proponents of the cause.

Normally, people throw aside articles that are not well sourced and don't have conflicting voices. So we gave it a bad score, a 2.3, noting that it's "hard to understand the source of data and projections voiced in this piece."

Through News Trust we have a record documenting the perceived quality of different publications.

As an exercise on Friday, I went on a "news hunt" for three different articles somehow pertaining to the global economy.

First I stopped at an article in the Guardian about how Venezuela is doing throughout this global financial crisis. I felt like the article had a pro-Capitalist bent to it because it offers criticism of Venezeula's style of government without explaining. I gave the article an overall 2.3, with low grades for context and depth. I said in my notes that "I just don't like how Venezuela is 'considered' one of Latin America's riskiest credits without backing up this statement with anything else but a blanket condemnation of socialism, solidifying investor's unqualified fears."

Next I went to India, where leaders are assuring the poor that they will be unaffected by the global financial crisis which was caused by "profligacy" or rich nations. It was not a broad story and was rather boilerplate quotes from India's leaders. I gave it a 2.7. In my notes I said: "It's nice in the sense that we are given the Indian perspective on the global economic crisis. But I feel like there should be more analysis than this pre-packaged allaying of financial fears."

Last I decided to behold the gold. In times of economic turmoil you always have some nutcase yelling at you to stock up on gold because the dollars is dying. Now's a time to get hooked up with some stats. This article offers some recent prices of gold and shows a bit how it's fluctuated over the last year. But it hardly gives me an understanding of the subject.

Many buyers, Edwards said, are figuring that global governments’ unprecedented efforts to pump money into the financial system will inevitably lead to higher inflation down the road -- even if the immediate concern of central bankers is deflationary pressures as consumer spending slumps.

"What I hear from [investors] is that they think deflation is a short-term issue," Edwards said.

That's the basics. Supply and demand.

I wanted more. My urge for more substantive understanding led me to give the story an overall 2.4, giving it a low score for lack of enterprising quality.

Now let's all demand better quality journalism through the persistent scrutiny of our entries in News Trust!

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