500 Websites Improved Trust Practices Through Rating Process

NewsGuard, the news rating platform founded in 2018, reports its method of examining and grading websites based on nine journalistic criteria resulted in more than 500 websites improving their journalism trust practices.

Those that have changed practices include NewsweekYahoo NewsFortune, NBCNews, Fast CompanyForbes and hundreds of sites owned by GateHouse Media.

The ratings caught attention after NewsGuard gave The Daily Mail — one of the largest news providers in the world — a failing grade that was publicly mocked by rival Guardian this week in an online story.

Through a just-signed deal with Microsoft, NewsGuard is now available as an optional extension on its Microsoft’s Edge browser. A report by Slate offers a thorough overview of NewsGuard’s road to influence, as well as some of the potential controversy surrounding news rating startups.



The ratings are composed through a series of nine weighted criteria that includes whether a website clearly labels advertising and  gathers and presents information responsibly. An outlet’s inclination to avoid deceptive headlines and its handling of the difference between news and opinion also affect the final grade.

A team of 35 journalists and editors perform the assessments.

Sites are given a green trustworthy rating if they pass enough of the criteria and a red if they fail too many.

Before publishing a rating in which an outlet has failed one of its nine criteria, NewsGuard contacts the outlet to inform it of the areas in which it failed, providing the outlet with a chance to explain its practices to NewsGuard. NewsGuard updates labels depending on how an outlet has rectified the failed area.

In the case of news conglomerate GateHouse Media, the company changed the way it labeled sponsored content, providing clarity to users. It also updated information about its ownership across hundreds of its local news websites. 

Jeff Moriarty, GateHouse senior vice president, digital, stated: “Working with NewsGuard analysts, who have an understanding of best practices across the web, we made our standards and practices more prominent and consistent across our digital 460 news brands across the country."

NewsGuard was founded by media entrepreneur Steven Brill and former Wall Street Journal publisher Gordon Crovitz.

Regarding the need for a service like NewsGuard, particularly in the age of fake news and social media gone wild, Crovitz stated: “NewsGuard is the opposite of an algorithm that determines which news is served to people on search and social media platforms today. We reveal exactly how our process works, how our criteria are applied, and who’s responsible for each rating — something opaque algorithms don’t do. We call for comment — algorithms don’t call for comment.”

The company’s ratings are available through a NewsGuard browser extension for Chrome, Safari, Edge and Firefox and displayed next to links in users search-engine results and social-media feeds.

The ratings can also be accessed through Microsoft Edge for iOS and Android devices.

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