A well-known journalism school published a list of what it claimed was “unreliable news websites.” As one might expect, the list itself was “unreliable.”
The Poynter Institute, which helps teach journalists ethics and reporting, created the list using predictably left-wing biased websites, including Snopes, FactCheck.org, and PolitiFact. These outlets have a history of downplaying Democrat lies and nitpicking Republicans. Snopes repeatedly “fact checks” known satire website The Babylon Bee.
As one can imagine, every conservative media outlet is on the list with a “bias,” “unreliable,” or “clickbait” rating. (The Daily Wire is on the list for “bias.”) Very few left-wing news outlets are on the list. Raw Story and The Daily Kos made the list for “clickbait,” but no well-known left-wing outlets on the list for “bias.”
For example, as noted by the Washington Free Beacon’s Stephen Gutowski (the Beacon is on the list for “bias”), Think Progress and Mother Jones are not on the list at all, even though they, too, should at least be considered biased.
The list appears to have been created in part to get advertisers to stop paying for ads for websites on the list, so one can see why nearly every conservative outlet was included:
“Fake news is a business. Much of that business is ad-supported.
Advertisers don’t want to support publishers that might tar their brand with hate speech, falsehoods or some kinds of political messaging — but too often, they have little choice in the matter.
Most ad-tech dashboards make it hard for businesses to prevent their ads from appearing on (and funding) disreputable sites. Marketers can create blacklists, but many of those lists have been out-of-date or incomplete.
Aside from journalists, researchers and news consumers, we hope that the index will be useful for advertisers that want to stop funding misinformation.”
Poynter said it removed several websites “whose stories, though highly politicized, were mostly not fake,” including The Heritage Foundation, National Review, The Daily Beast, The Intercept, and Think Progress.
The judgement call seems arbitrary, given the biased journalism at some of the above outlets and those not mentioned anywhere by Poynter.
A correction to the list has already been issued:
This index previously listed The Washington Examiner* and FirstPost as unreliable news sources. After reviewing our methodology, we found that neither met the criteria for inclusion, so both were removed.
So, already, it’s clear the list is not reliable. If those websites could be mistakenly added to the list, how many others were also added in error?
And though the list has explanations behind its “bias,” “conspiracy,” “unreliable,” etc. ratings, taken as a whole, the list lumps in websites like the Beacon, Daily Wire, and The Daily Caller with websites like World Net Daily and InfoWars.
As Gutowski said on Twitter, referring to a “media studies” professor who led the creation of the list, Melissa Zimdars of Merrimack College:
“Should she, or any single person for that matter, have the power to label the work of hundreds of professional journalists “UnNews” that’s worthy of an ad boycott? I thought we were supposed to be against that sort of thing, @Poynter.”
*I previously worked for The Washington Examiner