WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Listing Unreliable News Sources

May 8, 2019

Poynter recently posted a list of 515 "unreliable" news websites.  Poynter said the list was built from pre-existing databases compiled by journalists, fact-checkers, and researchers.  But the organization withdrew the list after receiving complaints from those on the list and others who objected to the inclusion of certain sites.

Shop Talk panelist Will Buss feels the list of unreliable sites was a step in the right direction. He said we’re at a crucial point in the journalism industry where the real news needs to be separated from the phony.  He said the list demonstrated that it must be profitable to report biased news and fool the public.

Buss also cracked, “Who knew a list of unreliable sources would be unreliable?” 

We don’t know who complained about the list, but Shop Talk panelist Patrick Johnson would not be surprised if the complaints came from some of the organizations that the list cited as being biased.  

Johnson felt Poynter was open and transparent about the list and why it applied certain labels to certain sites.  Buss agreed that the list appeared to be a serious, academic approach to separating true journalism from bias, propaganda, and satire.

Panelist Rich Egger found the idea of such a list to be interesting.  But he wondered if it’s a little like politicians who occasionally call for journalists to be licensed. He questioned who has the authority to judge what is and isn’t a legitimate news site.

Egger also said news consumers need to move beyond the headline and read what’s reported in stories.

Shop Talk is a weekly panel discussion.  This week’s program featured Will Buss, who teaches in the Department of Broadcasting and Journalism at Western Illinois University and advises the student editors at the Western Courier; Patrick Johnson, who teaches in the Department of Broadcasting and Journalism at WIU and advises Western’s student radio station WIUS/The Dog; and TSPR News Director Rich Egger.