Back to 2021 Panel Reports
Written by Kate Harloe, with contributions from Nancy Ancrum, Karen Attiah, Maria Bustillos, Sewell Chan, Elena Gooray, and Arwa Mahdawi
Published: 3 November 2021
From the executive summary: In 2020, the News Quality Initiative (NewsQ) brought a panel of journalists, academics, and technologists together to discuss the status of opinion journalism in online recommendation systems. The 2020 group of panelists recommended that, in order to improve the overall quality of news online, there must be a clear separation of news and opinion on news aggregation products. The panel then asked: How would the separation of news from opinion actually work in practice?
In 2021, a new group of opinion panelists gathered to work on the question. This new group of panelists started by affirming that the consistent and transparent labeling of news and opinion does matter to the overall quality of news online. In addition, panelists recommended that, in order for a clear distinction between news and opinion to work, publishers must be given a strong advisory role when it comes to definitions and methods for applying labels. An accessible rubric of definitions and labels must be created — based on a broad, diverse set of expert opinions — for different types of opinion journalism. The panel also recommended that improved standards for transparency and consistency regarding the handling of news and opinion journalism be established and applied, for both publishers and platforms.
The panelists made recommendations based on the understanding that longer-term and larger-scale changes to online recommendation systems are needed, and that platforms must assume greater responsibility for their products and for what they have published on their products. Many of these larger changes to online recommendation systems are more important than the challenge of separating news from opinion. However, the panel believes that moving towards improved separation of news and opinion journalism can make at least a small, and necessary, difference to the quality of news online.
Read the report here.