Callum Borchers' Blog

Sociologically significant sports (and class assignments)

Posts Tagged ‘patriots

NewsTrust rating system adaptable but imperfect

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My initial impression of NewsTrust was that it is very serious. As its name implies, the organization’s purpose is to gauge how strongly readers can trust the news they read — a pretty serious mission. So, given the freedom to post stories of any kind for a class assignment, I was curious to find out how NewsTrust would handle a topic slightly lighter than the Haitian cholera outbreak.

I led off with Dan Shaughnessy’s column about yesterday’s Patriots-Colts classic, and was impressed by the way NewsTrust adapts its rating system to this genre. Instead of asking, “Is this story factual?” and “Is it fair?” as NewsTrust does about hard news stories, the site asked, “Is this story informative?” and “Is it insightful?”

In this way, NewsTrust passed a big test in my estimation. The concept of a point-based rating system is a good one because it allows for easy comparisons between articles. However, such a system only works if it fits every story, and NewsTrust has made an effort to tailor its system in that manner.

The system is imperfect, however. While I like the tiered rating forms — short, quick, full, advanced — I’m not a fan of the review forms, also available in short, quick, full and advanced. It’s great that NewsTrust caters to people with two seconds or two minutes to spare, but eight different ways to evaluate a story is just too many.

Also, it seems odd to differentiate between a review and a rating. In NewsTrust world, the difference is that review questions are black-and-white — a story is either fair or unfair, factual or not factual — and rating questions are more nuanced, scored on a five-point scale. However, reviews are converted to the five-point rating scale to help measure a story’s overall score. For example, a reader using the short review who called a story factual and fair and said he would recommend the piece produces a score of 4.0. So, on the short review form, there is no way to award a story a perfect 5.0.

Since I used the full rating form to evaluate two other stories, Boston Globe pieces about holiday shopping projections and the UMass presidential search process, I managed to produce more thorough scores. But, in some cases, I think NewsTrust’s rating system sacrifices accuracy for convenience.

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Written by callumborchers

November 22, 2010 at 9:04 am

Moss coverage not as unfair as receiver predicted

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What Randy Moss said in his postgame press conference Sunday, after the Patriots opened the season with a 38-24 win over the Bengals, was wrong. Not what he said about his desire for a new contract before his current, three-year, $27 million deal expires at the end of the season; not what he said about feeling unappreciated by team ownership. I’m talking about his prediction that sports reporters would pillory him for his complaints.

Moss’ statements included generalizations like “anything that I may say will get blown out of proportion” and “anything that I say is going to get spun around.” The seven-time Pro Bowl receiver passed judgment on the coverage of his comments before the stories were written—before his comments were even completed, in fact.

Certainly, some media members fulfilled Moss’ prophecy. Those of us listening to the Pats’ postgame show on 98.5 The Sports Hub heard host Gary Tanguay characterize the presser as “idiotic” only moments after it ended.

But while preparing this post, which I planned as a counter-current defense of Moss, I discovered the current is, in fact, not flowing as strongly against the star as he forecast.

Ron Borges of The Boston Herald wrote Moss may be “the last honest man in pro football.” “Not many Americans like the truth anymore because it’s often inconvenient,” Borges added. “It’s not a cartoon or a simplistic homily. It’s not black or white. It’s complicated, nuanced, seldom what you think it is. That is especially true in pro sports, as Moss made clear.”

ESPN.com’s Jackie MacMullan penned a critical column, but managed to appreciate Moss’ candor, even as she objected to what she deemed poor timing and lack of tact.

“It’s called diplomacy, and it must have been a course that Moss skipped during his lengthy NFL education,” she wrote. “Give the man points for being honest, but then subtract almost as many for making it all about No. 81 on a day when [Wes] Welker completed an unfathomable comeback from a career-threatening knee injury to catch two touchdown passes.”

And Bob Ryan of The Boston Globe, though he dedicated much of today’s column to the inconsistencies between Moss’ personal and professional rhetoric, opened the piece by writing, “Randy Moss will forever be inscrutable. I don’t have a problem with that. Do you?”

No, I don’t. And, it turns out, neither do many reporters. So my biggest beef with Moss is that he condemned sportscasters and writers for the universal spinning and blowing-out-of-proportion he was certain would follow when, in truth, their analysis has been quite thoughtful and fair.

Written by callumborchers

September 14, 2010 at 3:17 pm