SpinSpotter: unspinning online news?

Aimed at uncovering ‘bias and inaccuracy’ in online news stories, new service SpinSpotter has gone live.

The site, which describes itself as ‘very beta’, lets users install a special toolbar – Spinoculars – to identify, share and edit online articles, which they consider biased.

“I believe that journalism has become spin-heavy because journalists operate in an echo chamber. They eat with other journalists, socialize with them, and ride in cabs together. Closeness of groups can drive closeness of opinion and intellectual laziness,” said Todd Herman, founder and chief creative officer of SpinSpotter, in an open letter.

SpinSpotter has attempted to create an objective criteria for what is and what is not biased by working with US journalism schools and using the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics.

“Their [the journalism schools’] expert knowledge (…) were then combined with guided user input and sophisticated algorithms to identify each instance of bias and inaccuracy in online media, whether it is a reporter stating opinion as fact, an unattributed adjective, a paragraph lifted from a press release, or an expert source with a clear conflict of interest,” a press release from SpinSpotter said (it’s okay, I’ve flagged it up and linked to the release).

Looks like the Spinoculars are only available for Firefox at the minute. Once downloaded and turned on they’ll identify if elements of a news story have previously been identified by another SpinSpotter user.

You can also use them to select and report articles or parts of stories that are biased according to different ‘rules of spin’, whether its as a result of the reporter’s voice or a lack of balance.

SpinSpotter comes hot on the heels of NewsCred – a site aiming to gauge the credibility of news sources – launched late last month.

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