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1 Feb, 2019 19:35

NewsGuard changes rating to label Mail Online ‘trustworthy’ – after executive asks nicely

NewsGuard changes rating to label Mail Online ‘trustworthy’ – after executive asks nicely

NewsGuard, a US software startup which pledges to rate the trustworthiness of news websites has backtracked and decided that Mail Online, home of the infamous sidebar of shame, is trustworthy after all.

It’s being reported that NewsGuard made the change not after further exhaustive examination of Mail Online’s clickbait style content but because an executive from the online news site asked them to.

Bosses at the Mail were apparently outraged at being given a red label warning readers that “this website generally fails to maintain basic standards of accuracy and accountability.” A NewsGuard editor’s note said that a senior Daily Mail executive wrote them “a long, point by point letter summarising the complaints and the views that he expressed in the discussions we had with him.”


Press Gazette in its report into the initial decision said that NewsGuard’s “team of analysts handed Mail Online a red rating, the same as it gave to Kremlin-backed news websites RT (formerly Russia Today) and Sputnik.”

It wasn’t entirely clear which of the sites it was suggesting should be more aggrieved by the comparison.

READ MORE: 'NewsGuard' app gives news sites 'trust' ratings & targets alternative media. What could go wrong?

But after the eloquent request to have a second look, the NewsGuard team reckoned that the Mail Online “does not repeatedly publish content that is clearly and significantly false,” and also agreed that “the website’s headlines are not deceptive,” in general.

Also on rt.com No need to install: Microsoft has controversial fake news filter NewsGuard built into mobile browser

It has concluded that Mail Online deserves a green label meaning it now “generally maintains basic standards of accuracy and accountability,” leading some critics to suggest that the website’s content still has not been analyzed in excessive detail.

NewsGuard said: “This label now has the benefit of the dailymail.co.uk’s input and our view is that in some important respects their objections are right and we were wrong.”

Part of the Daily Mail executive’s argument was that the negative rating had relied too much on complaints made to Britain’s Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO). NewsGuard demonstrated its judgement skills by accepting that complaints made to an official body are not relevant in deciding on a news site’s trustworthiness, or at least are not as important a factor as being Russian.

Also on rt.com ‘Perfect accuracy’: WikiLeaks hits back at ‘neocon’ app NewsGuard, which labeled it untrustworthy

Mail Online was also kind enough to disclose its leadership and possible “conflicts of interest,” which one can now check out if they have enough patience to scroll down to the very footer of their page.

NewsGuard is staffed by former mainstream media journalists, who have so far found the majority of mainstream sites trustworthy.

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