A questionable service that uses journalists to rate news and information sites will become available to public school students across the country this week, as part of a partnership with one of the U.S.’ largest teachers unions.
The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) is rolling out a nationwide partnership with NewsGuard to allegedly “protect and champion legitimate journalism and fact-based reporting” according to a press release. The agreement will provide licenses so tens of millions of public school students will be exposed to its services through a licensed copy of NewsGuard’s browser extension.
The Media Research Center’s (MRC) Free Speech America analyzed NewGuard ratings of news outlets and found substantial bias in their ratings.
“The average NewsGuard score for the “left” and “lean left” outlets — which included leftist outlets like Jacobin and The Nation — was 93/100. While the average rating for “right” and “lean right” outlets — which included Fox News, Washington Times and New York Post — was a low 66/100. That’s a 27 point disparity.”
NewsGuard touts itself as a service run by “trained journalists,” that rates news sources to allegedly “fight misinformation and teach media literacy,” according to its website. Instead, the ‘misinformation’ company may indeed be iteself misinforming.
Based on its nine criteria of journalistic practice “each [online] site gets an overall rating of Green (generally trustworthy) or Red (generally not trustworthy), a trust score of 0-100 points, and a detailed ‘Nutrition Label’ review explaining who is behind the site, what kind of content it publishes, and why it received its ratingaccording to NewsGuard. But the ratings are suspect, at best.
“The Federalist, posted in the “right” AllSides list, was scored the worst with a ridiculous “12.5” on NewsGuard. A predominant reason for the abysmal rating, according to NewsGuard, was that The Federalist questioned the efficacy of mask mandates for COVID-19, even though liberal CNBC (not on the AllSides list, but has a “95” NewsGuard rating) cited a study showing that cloth masks were only 37 percent effective at filtering out virus particles. Another August preprint study did not find an “association between mask mandates or use and reduced COVID-19 spread in US states.”
The teachers union needs a way to combat students who do their own research and present facts, data, and science that is not in line with the union’s narratives. Newsgaurd gives liberal teachers a way to discredit valid information just because a piece of software says that it’s invalid.
I’m really excited about this partnership with Newsguard. Students across the country will have access to this tool to help them identify misinformation. https://t.co/pwsfREiIyN
— Randi Weingarten (@rweingarten) January 25, 2022
NewsGuard’s software is rapidly spreading throughout the public learning space.
Steven Brill, co-founder of NewsGuard said the service is already used by over 800 public libraries, serving seven million public library patrons and “dozens of public schools and universities, as well as independent schools,” according to the press release.
“Now, with the AFT arranging for all of its member-educators to have free access to NewsGuard—at a time when misinformation is such a growing threat to public health and our democracy—millions more of America’s students will also be ‘NewsGuarding’ it,” he said.
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