Our Opinion: Recommendations for Publishing Opinion Journalism on Digital Platforms

Back to 2020 Panel Reports

Written by Subramaniam Vincent and Patricia Lopez with David Agraz, Leona Allen Ford, Jon Allsop, Rochelle Riley, and Rebecca Traister

Published: 30 November 2020

From the executive summary: “To address the challenge of improving the assortment of opinion journalism that appears in news feeds, the NewsQ Initiative convened a panel of journalists, media scholars, and technologists to examine the current condition of platform news products. Through looking at examples of how products serve up opinion journalism, the panel worked to identify specific areas where ranking and recommendation could be improved, and to make recommendations for both platforms and publishers.1

The following report outlines the panel’s findings and recommendations, and describes the panel’s process, explorations, and aspirations for next steps.

The report begins with a discussion of the purpose of opinion journalism, specifically its role in providing evidence-based reflections on the news and a diverse array of perspectives. With this in mind, the panel provides our analysis of the challenges facing publishers and aggregators when distributing opinion journalism online. With a view to the difficulties around the problem and our own limited perspectives, we provide recommendations for practical steps that both publishers and platforms can take to address them.

In particular, we call urgently for a clear distinction between news and opinion journalism in news aggregation products. Though we provide some suggestions for how to approach the challenge, providing this clarity industry-wide will require committed support from both publishers and technology platforms. Some of those changes require more resources or greater consensus than exists at the moment. It will also require more mutual discussion and exchange.

In framing our analysis and recommendations, we want to clearly state our recognition that long- term, big-picture, systemic changes are necessary to improve the quality and credibility of news online. We also recognize that, though publishers are a critical part of improving the quality of news online and overall, we are in some ways asking them to solve a problem they themselves did not create. At the same time, we believe that the urgency and scale of this problem require immediate, pragmatic action from both publishers and platforms, and that some steps can and should be taken as we work towards bigger changes.”

Read the report here.