News Transparency Brothers and Sisters
By Todd Herman, SpinSpotter Founder
Many of you read about Spot.us, a news start-up from the halls of academia who hope to remake the new world by turning to readers to decide which stories get investigated---because only stories that get funded make are published. It's a cool idea which has garnered a lot of press.
I hope Spot.us won't mind if I consider them part of a movement we call News Transparency. This is a movement peopled by folks like us, NewsTrust.org, FactCheck.org and the like: all of us seem to have the goal of news unfettered by bias or inaccuracies. Where we seem to differ, though, if in whether or not a commercial entity can be trusted to provide that type of look into media. Spot.us is a for profit business, as is SpinSpotter and some feel that make us less trustworthy.
I do think that entities who demand transparency must themselves provide it. In the case of SpinSpotter, we went to come fairy unusual degrees to be transparent ourselves; have you read our management bios? We list, among other things, our political donations (all of them of which we are aware---not just the so called "big ones"), our charitable donations and our political points-of-view; at regular intervals we also publish our advertisers and business partners, for all the same reasons. While one could still be a transparent cheat, we think that exposing our interests will make it easier for you to expose us should we ever skew results to make ourselves happy or to drive an agenda other than our stated one: to make news reporting transparent.
Here, though, is a question for the non-profit entities in the equation: how you do you deal with issues of transparency as relates your donor base. Do you think your users have a right to know all of your donors? It's a sincere questions, not a jab. Please let us know.