About

Newscleanse is a blog and search engine. The search engine (built using Google's API) searches a curated list of sites, or subset of the full list. It was built as an effort to allow people to research and fact check topics in news, current affairs, politics, science, health, technology and other topics using only reliable, high quality sources representing a variety of viewpoints.

The blog will feature meta-articles which presents multiple articles on a single topic (in summary form with links). It will also present information on 'fake news', as well as topics such as bias, propaganda, pseudoscience, conspiracy theory and persuasion (how people decide what's true, what's false and how they change their minds).

According to Google CEO Eric Schmidt, as of 2010, humans produced as much information every two days as we did between the dawn of civilization (roughly 12,000 BCE) and 2003. The pace at which we produce information has continued to accelerate since Schmidt cited that statistic. In 2013, people uploaded 300 hours per minute of video to YouTube, in 2014 it had grown to 400 hours per minute. In other words, it would take a person 24,000 years to watch the 210 million hours of video uploaded in 2014 (and that assumes that they can do it without sleeping). Despite this, there's little evidence that people are any better informed than they were in the days before the internet.

It was hoped that the information age would lead to a 'marketplace of ideas', a better understanding of the world and a society in which the best ideas naturally rose to the top. Unfortunately, that Utopian vision didn't take human behavior into account.

In 2016, we have tens of thousands of information sources but advertising is the primary source of funding for all of that information. That means that many people in the media business are desperate for web traffic and far more interested in generating clicks than in journalistic ethics or providing in depth quality information. Additionally, much of the information available is compromised by partisanship, public relations, conspiracy theories, paranoia and even deliberate disinformation and propaganda campaigns.

Even when people are aware of the problem of bad information, it isn't terribly helpful because of information bubbles. Given the vast amount of information available and a limited amount of time consume information, people have a tendency to dismiss information which doesn't agree with their preexisting beliefs. Journalists and publishers, who are themselves subject to bias and filter bubbles, will then narrow their focus and carve out a niche, telling a certain group of people exactly what they want to hear and reinforcing their beliefs. In pure financial terms it is a good way to build up a loyal audience and a steady income stream.

The aim with Newscleanse is to allow users to search for information on important stories and issues and to feel reasonably comfortable with the information that they are getting. A certain amount of bias is inevitable but the aim is to search only sites with a strong reputation for fact based reporting. Some of them have a right wing bias, a left wing bias or a bias that favors a certain country, state or region but their reporting is built around carefully double-checked facts.

More information about what was included, what was not and why is available in the FAQ. However, it is important to note that the implication is not that good information doesn't exist outside of the sites on this list, or that everything on the list will always be 100 percent accurate. Even well-intentioned journalists sometimes make mistakes. The goal is to give people the ability to find information from a variety of viewpoints and to feel relatively comfortable that the facts presented are accurate. It is meant to provide a foundation of knowledge, not to become its own filter bubble.

Over time and in collaboration with others, the list of sites will be revised and updated in an effort to continuously improve the information provided. Once the core of the site is up and running, the site's blog will provide information on media awareness, the psychology of how individuals process information and overviews of the basic facts underlying important stories.




About Me:

At the moment this is a solo operation. My name is Justin Beach and I am interested in just about everything. I am a US - Canadian dual citizen, have worked for a variety of organizations including PBS and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and over the years have written about US, Canadian and international politics, economics, history, media, science, technology and even film, television and music. You can find me on Twitter @Justinsb.