Hate, props, and hotness: restoring journalism’s credibility

Journalism.co.uk sez:

NewsCred, a website aimed at gauging the credibility of online news, has been launched in a beta. The site, which aims to help users find ‘the highest quality and most credible news online’, has created a digital newspaper of aggregated articles, which are voted on by users.

NewsCred is some really neat shit. It ain’t breaking news that journalism’s got a bit of a credibility problem — okay, a disasterous credibility problem. When we lose our cred, we’ve got nothing! Credibility is journalism’s *only* currency. Who do you believe? Blog X or The New York Times?

Why is our credibility in the crapper?

Hotness. MSNBC, Fox News, and the 24 hour news cycle. Speculation, opinion and spectacle have ruined the news. Every time we report on flag pins, pregnant dudes or autism-causing vaccinations, god kills a kitten.

The news needs way less hotness, fast. That’s why I’m into NewsCred, it’s the Digg-shaped anti-Digg. It’s not about what’s hot. It’s about what’s good.

NewsCred\'s credit and discredit buttons

Jeff Jarvis completely disagrees:

I think these folks are attacking the problem from the wrong perspective. They’re trying to play whack-a-mole with credibility and identify all the bad stuff — just as news people, long accustomed to packaging the world in a pretty box with a bow on top, keep wanting to kill every bad comment on their sites. They’ll fail.

All social apps need to get the secret sauce just right — and most totally fail. Only time will tell if NewsCred has legs, but hell, even if it ain’t perfect, they’re at least barking up the right tree.

(For several examples of new media journalism that’s barking up the wrong tree, check out the DayLife Developer Challenge winners. They were made by lovely people I’m certain, so, sorry for being a hater, but dang — it’s just a bunch of shiny shiny.)

NewsCred is trying to solve a real problem: the disaffected news audience. Yes, this encourages readers to be haters, but they can also give props to the good stuff. Journalism has a credibility problem largely because journalists are producing lots of crap. We need to be vetted.

Zed Shaw says “The Internet needs identity, reputation, and retribution.” Readers know who we are, and rely on our reputations, but comments and letters to the editor are hardly retribution. If we publish junk, we should get buried.

Bring on the hate. No more kittens have to die.