Database Categories

NewsQ Activity Area: Technical Definitions

V2, November 2019 (archived 2022)

These categories represent the entirety of information that the NewsQ Database collected or sought to collect. This data might be incorporated into algorithms that seek to support quality journalism in news feeds and search results.

A partial draft of NewsQ Signals can be found here.

A previous version of the classes for the project can be found in this blog post.

Signal source and signal class

Knowing the source of data signal related to news sites may impact evaluation of the data (class) itself. While there are strong links between some of the sources and classes, they are not always the same.  Consider these examples:

●      Editorial activity, such as a corrections policy, may be self-reported by the publisher and/or confirmed by a third-party.

●      An award provided by an external organization, may be provided directly on their organization’s website or collected through a mention on the publisher’s own site (self-reported.)

Each unique signal in the aggregator is always associated with one source category and one class category.

A. Signal source

  1. Self-reported
  2. Third-party reported

B. Signal class

  1. Identification
    • Website/Domain attributes
    • Publisher/Outlet attributes
  2. Journalistic Content
  3. Journalistic Behavior
  4. Diversity
  5. External Assessments
  6. External Affiliations
  7. Traffic and Engagement Metrics
  • TBD Potential class: Revenue/Advertisement

Signal class definitions

There are seven main signal classes of information within the NewsQ database. We’ve provided the guiding question and description along with a sample of candidate signals or related information for each class.

I. Identification

What types of online information outlets are we evaluating? 

The project is oriented to online news and information environments, but a number of news outlets are not only online; news agencies have a presence that often go beyond virtual spaces. Information is therefore collected related to both domains and the actual outlets.


  • Organizational structure
  • Beat
  • Media type
  • Online presence

II. Journalistic Content

To what extent does the content of the online information outlet qualify as “news”?

We know in general news should contain current factual content in short formats. Describing this class is our research question of the next year.


  • Accuracy-related, eg. fact-checks
  • Related to “Accountability journalism”
  • versus Commentary/Opinion; versus Entertainment

III. Journalistic Behavior

To what extent does the online information outlet behave according to accepted journalism ethics or express standardized journalistic behaviors? 
Some indicators of quality news emerge from specific guidelines and behaviors defined in professionalized journalism.


  • Editorial policy on corrections
  • Editorial practice to implement corrections

IV. Diversity

How diverse is the structure and content of the information outlet?

This class accounts for the diversity of the intended audience, the product, the people responsible for the product, and the publisher.

  • Outlet location
  • Outlet language
  • Diversity of staff

V. External assessments

How do others see the information outlet?

This class refers to external recognition or measurement of quality and trust by an organization or company. 

  • Publisher/Outlet awards
  • Outlet Bias ratings
  • Public opinion

VI. External affiliations

What official memberships or known relationships does the information outlet have that help us contextualize it better?

This class pertains to membership in professional organizations or associations as well as issues such as the Internet Research Authority.


  • Member of a fact-checking network

VII. Traffic and Engagement metrics

How much traffic do these (online) information outlets experience, and what is the nature of their engagement?

Frequency of publication is likely to condition traffic and engagement, but also the relationship they establish with their audience, such as subscriptions and trackers.


  • Website page views
  • Outlet circulation
  • Frequency of publication: eg. daily, weekender