The Internet has radically changed the way we get our news, introducing new problems for communities like Baltimore: traditional media have reduced their local news coverage, new media startups are struggling to fill in the gaps, and social networks are flooding us with too much unreliable information.
To address these problems, NewsTrust, our nonprofit social news network, is launching its first local news site in Baltimore, to help residents find good journalism about their community.
NewsTrust Baltimore aims to feature the best news coverage in the region, selected from a wide range of local online, print and broadcast outlets. This online experiment, which is funded by the Open Society Foundations, invites Baltimore citizens to rate and discuss local news stories, in collaboration with NewsTrust editors — and share the best reporting with each other.
We think this is a unique opportunity for Baltimore citizens to become better informed and more engaged about local issues — especially college and high school students. Our service will show them how to tell apart good journalism from misinformation, so they can become more discerning news consumers.
I hope you will sign up and participate in this two-month pilot, which runs until the end of March 2011. We will release our first findings in April and give awards to news outlets that are providing high-quality reporting, as determined by our reviewers and editors.
For this project, we have partnered with a number of local news organizations, including the Baltimore Sun, Baltimore Magazine, The Mark Steiner Show (WEAA-FM), Urbanite Magazine and WYPR-FM, as well as online sites like Baltimore Brew, Center Maryland, and Citybizlist, to name but a few. These media partners will invite their audiences to participate in this interactive quest, and will include NewsTrust feeds and widgets on their websites.
We are also partnering with several local colleges and high schools, including Towson University, the University of Maryland, the Baltimore Freedom Academy and The Baltimore Civitas School. These educational partners will train their students to rate and curate the news on their own group pages, earning certificates for their work.
We hope this experiment can improve the way we get our local news and help us all make more informed decisions as citizens.
Please join us on NewsTrust Baltimore. See you online!