EDITOR’S NOTEBOOK: That green NewsGuard checkmark

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It took me a few months, forced me through a few hoops and to flex a little bit of shameless self-promotion, but I was finally able to get one of those little green NewsGuard checkmarks at triad-city-beat.com, and on all our Facebook posts.

Maybe it’s a small thing, of the type you rarely even notice, until you do. And then it’s everywhere. Well, almost everywhere.

NewsGuard arose out of a need to verify sources of accurate information in the era of fake news. It had been going on for years, since the dawn of social media, but the 2016 election showed us all the power wielded by the forces of a lie that can now be disseminated to millions — even billions, theoretically — before the truth can put its boots on.

We’re in a dangerous time when it comes to freedom of speech. And I predict that in the coming years, the First Amendment will come under the same sort of scrutiny as the Second Amendment, and undergo the same sort of tests as the Fourteenth — that’s equal protection under the law, the basis for all civil rights movements. Lies are coming at us from every screen, shaded by confirmation bias, honed by spin, scoured by policing of the subtext.

NewsGuard is an attempt at calibrating a compass in this wilderness, and we’re honored to align ourselves with true north.

It wasn’t the qualification that was so daunting — Triad City Beat has always adhered to guidelines set forth by reputable news organizations like the Society of Professional Journalists. NewsGuard takes it one step further.

We always correct or clarify the record when we make mistakes. We never conflate news and opinion, which run in different sections of the paper. We don’t run press releases, write deceptive headlines or attempt to obscure ownership.

It just took some effort to get NewsGuard to notice our ethos.

There was some paperwork involved, and an interview process with the actual, experienced reporters who are charged with holding the line between fake news and the soft science of journalism.

Now that they have, we’ll get that spiffy green checkmark next to the articles we post to Facebook, which means, among other things, that we have a long history of printing the truth, that we have demonstrated skill at it, and that we are ultimately accountable to the truth.

In other words, it’s just business as usual. But now with an important-looking green checkmark next to it.

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