Commentary

Brill To Tackle Fake News With 'News Guard'

Another journalistic icon is joining the fight against fake news. Steve Brill will shortly launch News Guard, a startup that rates news content, so consumers finding news via search or social media will have a better idea of whether it’s trustworthy. 

Brill rose to prominence as the founder of the magazine American Lawyer (1979) and later founded Court TV (1991), pioneering online news and opinion site Brill’s Content (published from 1998-2001), and the Yale Journalism Initiative (2006).

His latest venture aims to combine technology with “qualified, accountable human beings” to fight the persistent scourge of fake news, according to Axios, which first reported the news.

In practice, that means hiring moderators and curators with expertise in a relevant area to rate online content, beginning with a team of 40 to 60 journalists. NewsGuard will seek to monetize its activities by charging license fees to social platforms and aggregators.

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Brill is close to completing a $6 million round of funding to launch News Guard. The company expects to launch a product for U.S. search and social-media users sometime around the middle of next year.

As co-CEO of News Guard,  Brill is bringing on board Gordon Crovitz, former publisher of The Wall Street Journal, who has collaborated with Brill on digital news startups in the past. In 2009, for example, the duo joined forces to found Press+, an online payment system meant to enable digital publications of all sizes to charge readers for content. In 2014, Press+ was sold and merged with Piano Media.

Brill isn’t the only one trying to stem the rising tide of fake news.

Last month, Google announced a partnership on Thursday with the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN), run by The Poynter Institute, which promotes best practices when it comes to accurate information online.

Facebook began offering users more information about the sources of news in its News Feed, making it easier for users to find reputable publishers. The social network is making the information available via a small new button, marked “i,” which appears on article links in the News Feed. Users who click on the button will pull up a box with information about the publisher behind the article.

Earlier this year, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales announced he was raising funds for WikiTribune, a site dedicated to tackling fake news.

4 comments about "Brill To Tackle Fake News With 'News Guard'".
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  1. brad berger from aim high tips, November 6, 2017 at 11:33 a.m.

    Soon there will be more people checking news than news itself.

  2. Henry Blaufox from DragonSearch, November 6, 2017 at 12:02 p.m.

    Hats off to Messrs. Brill and Crovitz on launching this venture. They've already shown what they can achieve for the industry through Press+. In the present case, it will be intriguing to see how News Guard collects, collates and disseminates rankings. It's an example of drinking from a fire hose right now, so providing timely, accurate and unbiased ratings will be a challenge.

  3. David Reich from Reich Communications, Inc., November 6, 2017 at 1:29 p.m.

    We need all the fact-checking we can get.  But the problem remains that for many who rely only on FOX and Breitbart and Limbaugh, fact-checking like Brill's won't be seen or believed.  The 30-something percent that undyingly supports trump seems to be largely ignorant of or resistant to real reporting.

  4. Cindy Webster from BEST, November 6, 2017 at 10:36 p.m.

    As a young student, I was instructed, by no less a teacher, to believe nothing I was told and half of what I read. Today, that has become more and more true. Sadly, the "fake new contributors", will just become smarter at hiding their fake identies. Maybe we need to start thinking of information, not so much as news but instead as opinions.  

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