Spinspotter Promises to Help Un-Bias the News

Spinspotter Promises to Help Un-Bias the News
Dan Gould
  • 9 september 2008

Spinspotter is a new web browser tool that claims it can detect spin in news stories. When you run the program, it will scan articles for potential indicators of bias. You can also flag words and statements that seem to be unfounded, or that don’t tell the whole story. Flagged items can then be run through collaborative tools (think Wikipedia) that will allow users to be rated on the accuracy of their spin-finds by fellow spinspotters.

The software runs off algorithms based on six key tenets of spin and bias, gathered from the guidelines of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code Of Ethics and an advisory board of trusted journalists.

Business Week explains:

The tenets are: reporter’s voice (adjectives used by a journalist that go beyond the supporting evidence in the article); passive voice (example: a story says “bombs land” without stating which party is responsible for them); a biased source (a quoted source’s partisanship is not clearly identified); disregarded context (a political rally’s attendance is reported to be “massive,” but would it have been so huge had the surviving members of the Beatles not played?); and lack of balance (a news story on a controversial topic gives much more credence to one side’s claims).

Business Week: “Media Bias? Not if This Web Site Can Help It”


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