Take back the truth!

10 September 2008

That’s the rather audacious (trademarked) call to arms from the new website and software tool, SpinSpotter:

Spin doesn’t belong in the news. It’s like putting motor oil in the mojito. We have tremendous respect for journalists, but who would argue that the media circus isn’t out of control? A full 66% of Americans think the press is one-sided. Now there’s a website and software tool that exposes news spin and bias, misuse of sources, and suspect factual support. At SpinSpotter, you’ll experience the news in a profound new way. Yes, the truth is back in town.

After installing the free “Spinoculars”, SpinSpotters can see, share and edit suspected spin on any website. After visiting a few of my regular news haunts, I haven’t yet seem any “markers” to indicate spin. I’m sure that’s more to do with the lack of users than the lack of spin, though. In fact, the only markers I have seen are on the company’s own home page.

I like the fact that it’s not just a free-for-all commenting tool. SpinSpotters have to categorise dubious claims using one of the service’s “Rules of Spin”:

  • Lack of Balance
  • Reporter’s Voice
  • Passive Voice
  • Biased Source
  • Disregarded Context
  • Selective Disclosure
  • Almost all of these would allow a level of subjectivity, which seems an odd way of trying to make things more objective. For that reason, it’s hard for me to see how this service can be relied on, but I suppose its mere presence might just hold journalists and those who feed them news to account and increase the quality and quantity of unbiased reporting.

    That said, I think the company needs to add more (or even some!) international members to its Journalism Advisory Board in order to ensure that a US-centric view of media objectivity does not get imposed on the rest of the world.

    Take it for a spin (ahem), and see what you think.

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