The Committee for Newspaper and Media Integrity has ranked the Georgia Straight as the most reputable paper in the world, as of April 7. The committee was founded by Australian researcher H. Trent Moore and Oxford University law student Aron Ping D’Souza, who are the editor and associate editor of the Journal of Applied Economy.
In a phone interview with the Straight from England, D’Souza said that a number of smaller papers fared well in the committee’s rankings because they can attract a more passionate audience. “I would venture to say people would read your newspaper in greater depth for a longer amount of time than they would the generic corporatized papers,” he said.
D’Souza said that he and Moore fund the project out of their own pockets to measure distortion in the media. They have been gathering data on newspapers since April 2009 and posted their findings on their site, www.newspaperintegrity.com, this month. According to the site, the committee was founded “to give consumers an avenue to state their opinions on the objectivity, integrity and quality of newspapers and other media outlets”. Comments and user rankings are taken into account.
D’Souza said that he and Moore initially combed the Internet looking for “key terminologies” about newspaper names, articles, and links, a method similar to the way Google ranks pages. “We surveyed millions of pieces of data and found where people were using language that would indicate reputability based on a theory called natural-language queries, and we developed preliminary data from that,” he said. “Now that people can give rankings in supplement to that chatter-theory-based argument, we can verify the method in some ways, and also we can improve the method.”
The second-highest ranking went to the Finnish paper Karjalainen. The margin of error is quite high—plus or minus 14.29 percent—but D’Souza said that with more information from users, he hopes this can be brought below 10 percent.