The Credibility Challenge: Newsbusters and Quackwatch

Newsbusters

  • What is the site’s top-level domain? .org
  •  Is the site hosted using a free platform such as Geocities, Blogger/Blogspot, WordPress or Yahoo? no.
  • What is the author’s education level? One news analyst for Newsbusters Matthew Balan has a college education.
  • Does he or she have a degree?  Yes, a Bachelor’s degree.
    • From what school? The University of Delaware
    • In what subject? History and Political Science
  • What is the author’s previous writing experience? His biography does not have his past writing experience listed.
  • How much does the author probably know about the topic or topics on which he or she is writing? My author should know a lot about his topic because he has been working as a news analyst of 8 years. Additionally he probably covers a lot of political news stories and because he has a political science degree he is probably well versed in that topic specifically as well.
  • Does he or she deal intimately with this subject in daily life, or only research it for the purpose of writing about it? No because his biography on the website does not have anything that implies that he would.
  • If relevant, has he or she performed experiments and independent research projects on this topic? N/A
  • Does the author have a neutral perspective on the site’s subject matter, or is he or she trying to promote a particular viewpoint? The Newsbusters’ site claims that it has a conservative stance. Because of this stance my author is probably going to promote a conservative viewpoint to keep in line with his sites views.
  • Does the site have editors? Yes.
  •  Is there an organization that is in charge of the site’s content, or that funds the site’s operation? Yes, The Media Research Center (MRC)
  • Does this organization have an interest in the site’s subject matter? Yes, because the MRC has a conservative bias as well.
  • Is it likely to want people to have a particular perspective on this topic? Yes, because people tend to listen to news that agrees with their values.
  • Might it encourage the author(s) and editor(s) to give a skewed presentation? Yes because they are promoting themselves as a group that “busts” liberal news.
  • How much does the author probably know about the topic or topics on which he or she is writing? Not as much as might be required for extremely accurate news analysis but not so little as to not know anything on the topic.

Exercise 1: Rank the URLs

  1. http://www.random.gov
  2.  http://www.columbia.edu/~jrandom
  3. http://www.random.com
  4. http://random.blogspot.com

Exercise 2: Finding the Author

  • Is there one single author? There appears to be one author, Dr Barrett.
  • Is there a group of authors? There appears to be only one author
  • Is authorship restricted or unrestricted? It appears to be restricted

Exercise 3: The Author’s Authority

  •  What is the author’s education level? PhD
  • Does he or she have a degree? Yes
    • From what school? Columbia University
    • In what subject? Psychiatry

•   What is the author’s previous writing experience? Yes he has written 52 books and over 2,000 articles according to his biography.

•   How much does the author probably know about the topic or topics on which he or she is writing? He probably knows a lot based on his profession.

•   Does he or she deal intimately with this subject in daily life, or only research it for the purpose of writing about it? He did before but now he is retired so he did research it before he retired.

•   If relevant, has he or she performed experiments and independent research projects on this topic? Probably yes, because of his career.

•   Does the author have a neutral perspective on the site’s subject matter, or is he or she trying to promote a particular viewpoint? Probably not because of his experience in the field he would try to be more objective.

Exercise 4: Sponsorship

•   Is there an organization that is in charge of the site’s content, or that funds the site’s operation? There does not appear to be organization behind the content.

•   Does this organization have a vested interest in the site’s subject matter? n/a

•   What perspective do they want people to have on this topic? n/a

•   Are they likely to encourage the author(s) and editor(s) to give a skewed presentation? n/a

For more information:

https://credibility.stanford.edu/

http://mason.gmu.edu/~montecin/web-eval-sites.htm

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