Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

The Knight News Challenge: A Right-to-Respond Button Next To Every News Story...

Posted by Tom Foremski - November 15, 2010

The Knight News Challenge offers $5 million in funding to the best ideas that "use digital platforms to deliver news and information to geographically defined communities." It is now in its fifth year and the deadline is December 1. Here is my application, let me know what you think.

The goal of this project is to provide companies and individuals with the "Right to Respond" to an online news story no matter where it is published.

Having the right-to-respond to a news story should become a fundamental right to everyone on the Internet yet it is difficult to do because of the fragmented nature of the Internet, with news stories often appearing in many places on different sites, and the lack of commenting facilities.

- What if a company or individual is the victim of misinformation or allegations of one kind or another?

- What if a company wants to react to a story about a competitor?

- What if a politician wants to respond to a news story?

- What if a community wants to respond quickly to a news story?

- What if an individual is misquoted and wants redress?

Conventional means of response are poor and aren't very timely:

- Often, news stories don't have a comments section.

- Comments sections can be very busy meaning that any official response is lost in the crowd.

- News stories can be published in multiple places which means responding to each one is very time consuming.

The solution:

- The "Right to Respond" is a small green button that sits next to an online news story. If it is red it means that a "right to respond" has been registered.

- Clicking on the red "Right to Respond" button leads to a page where the response is posted.

- The response is right next to the news story and not buried in the comments section.

- It is real time, the response is immediate and occurs during the news cycle rather than days later.

- The "Right to Respond" content is hosted in a central location. This means the same reply can be sent to multiple sites at once.

- Corporations would pay the news publisher site for hosting the "Right to Respond" button. They would also choose on which sites they want to file a response.

- Individuals mentioned in the news story, without any company affiliation, would be able to post a reply for free.

It provides an additional revenue stream to publishers and it also conveys trust because legitimate news sites would want to host a "Right to Respond" button showing that they support fair and accurate reporting.

Any news sites deliberately publishing misinformation in order to earn money from "Right to Respond" would quickly lose audience and can be blocked by the companies paying for a response.

There can be several responses available for each news story that could be sold to different companies.

Mobile: It can be easily made available over mobile devices since there is very little space taken up by the "Right to Respond" button.

Communities: The activation of the "Right to Respond" button can be made location based so that it is activated in specific communities. Or specific communities could be offered access to use the "Right to Respond" button for free, encouraging greater communication.

You can view and respond to this proposal here.


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