Online news project to rate journalism efforts in Baltimore

NewsTrust launching pilot to enable rating, reviewing of local news media

January 31, 2011|By Gus G. Sentementes, The Baltimore Sun

If you ever wanted to be a critic of Baltimore news, now is your chance.

A new website that collects local news reporting and gives readers a chance to rate, critique and comment on stories launched a two-month pilot project on Monday with several partnerships in Baltimore's mainstream and independent media.

NewsTrust, a nonprofit started in 2006 by a former Apple Inc. executive, is partnering with several local media entities in Baltimore. The media partners will carry digital "widgets" on their websites that enable readers to participate in an online community of news reviewers that NewsTrust is attempting to nurture, said Fabrice Florin, executive founder and director.

"We're trying to feature some of the best journalism from Baltimore," Florin said. "Essentially, we're trying to find the best of the local news ecosystem. There's a lot of good journalism that's getting lost in the cracks."

The new site can be found at

Local media partners include The Baltimore Sun, Baltimore magazine, The Marc Steiner Show (WEAA-FM), Urbanite Magazine and WYPR-FM. Website-only partners include Baltimore Brew, Center Maryland, Citybizlist and Baltimore-area sites.

NewsTrust has a broader website that includes international and national news. But its Baltimore website represents a new step for the entity. It received funding from the Open Society Foundations, which has a program that is active in philanthropic endeavors in Baltimore, to launch a site in the city that focuses on local news.

"We're pioneering it in Baltimore," Florin said.

Readers will be able to rate and review stories produced by the media partners, as well as content by other local and independent journalists who don't belong to the partnership. Those who write reviews also can expect to be rated.

Area college and high school students are being encouraged to participate in the NewsTrust online community. The nonprofit is partnering with Towson University, the University of Maryland and Morgan State University, as well as the Baltimore Freedom Academy and the Baltimore Civitas School.

Stacy Spaulding, assistant professor of journalism and new media at Towson University, said she will be integrating the NewsTrust website into her senior-level multimedia reporting course. Students will post their own articles and review each other's work on the site.

"I certainly think it's a service," said Spaulding. "Anyone can get on a talk forum and post what they want, but what's exciting here is [NewsTrust is] a rated, trusted community."

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