About JournoWatch

What is JournoWatch?

JournoWatch is a media watchdog and reputation tracker, backed by the JournoWatch Database: a curated, user-driven database of records of stories, tweets, and narratives, allowing the public to track the reputations of various journalists and outlets and to research their publishing histories.

Why JournoWatch?

Today's media watchdog organizations offer ephemeral coverage: they cover recent narratives in the media, but don't present an easily accessible record of the past. As a result, media watchers find it difficult to track the reputations of outlets and the evolution of narratives over time, and have to rely on their own memories to recall past narratives.

There's an old proverb that says: "A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes." This effect is of great utility to those in the media who want to push false or distorted narratives. The untruth may be corrected, even in the same papers that originally published it, but the correction won't travel as far: many people will still believe the untruth, and the writers and publishers who uncritically disseminated it, who failed in their journalistic duty to fact-check stories and to strive to report accurately, rarely have their reputations suffer as a result.

We want to change that.

We appreciate the work of current fact-checking outlets and media watchdogs, but they can only go so far: they check facts and monitor the media for falsehoods and biases, but they don't track reputations or index URLs. Before JournoWatch, when a journalist wrote up a false, biased, or immoral story and an outlet published it, it was quickly forgotten, the reputations of those involved often went unharmed, and, if the story was still available, it could easily spread.

We aim to fix the shortcomings in previous fact-checking efforts. We index individual stories, allowing our users to easily search for information on them, and we tie them to their authors and publishers, allowing our users to track their reliability.

How does JournoWatch work?

When a journalist publishes an entry that reflects poorly on them, our users can submit it to our database, tagged with its authors, its publisher, its date of publication, and a summary of what's wrong with the article. If our moderators approve the entry, it will appear in our database, associated with its author or authors, and with the outlet it appears in.

What is a user?

A user is anyone who uses our site. Users can submit entries without being logged in; however, anonymous users' contributions are associated with their IP address. The submissions of users with accounts are associated only with their account ID; no other information about the user is stored. Whether or not you sign up, only you and the JournoWatch administrator can see your submission history.

What is an entry?

An entry is a record of an article, a tweet, a Journolist or Cabalist email, or any other public or professional communication by a journalist that our users and moderators have judged to be false, biased, misleading, immoral, or otherwise reflecting poorly on them. Each entry is associated with its author or authors, its date of publication, and the outlet that it appeared i; and each entry has a summary explaining the journalist's transgression.

What is a journalist?

A journalist is a career professional in the field of journalism, or somebody who has published in an outlet owned by a media company. We don't index bloggers.

To clarify our eligibility rules: if a non-journalist publishes a piece in a professional media outlet, including an outlet branded as a 'blog' (e.g. Gawker), that piece is eligible for inclusion in the JournoWatch database, but his or her tweets, mailing list communications, etc. are not. If a non-journalist publishes a piece in a blog not owned by a media company, it's not eligible for inclusion. For professional journalists, however, their tweets, blog posts, and Journolist/Cabalist/etc. emails (that is, any material directly relating to their journalistic career) are all eligible for inclusion.

What is an outlet?

An outlet is a medium that publishes entries. Most of the outlets in our database are journalistic outlets, like the New York Times or Salon, but some are occupational mailing lists, like Journolist, or neutral carriers, like Twitter. In the former case, outlet tagging serves as a reputation tracker, allowing our users to easily see and link to all problematic or potentially discrediting information about the outlet, quickly get an idea of its possible biases, and so on; but all types of outlet are currently treated identically by our database.

What can I do to help?

The best ways to help are to submit stories and to donate. You can also contact us and apply to become a moderator.