It has been a tough week for the journalism “experts” over at the Poynter Institute. It was just two days ago when the supposed training outlet for writers and reporters released an extensive list of “Unreliable” news sites. As detailed RedState, Twitchy, and PJ Media were just a few of the sites on its list.
Soon after its release there was backlash felt by Poynter, and the wave of problems and complaints poured in. After a number of legitimate news outlets were cited as incorrectly designated some corrections to the list were made. Then language was struck from the article that accompanied the list, which had initially called for advertisers to blacklist the sites.
Now however when you click the link to the pages with these lists they seem to have vanished.
Is everybody else getting a 404 error on this page now too? https://t.co/VOm5E9nMAe
— Philip Klein (@philipaklein) May 3, 2019
Sure enough, when trying to pull up that screen you get their announcement of that page not able to be located. This is not a technical error. After all of the critical blowback, it appears that Poynter is going to memory-hole that whole debacle of a list. Official word came last night that the list was taken down by Poynter executives.
In a statement on their site from the managing editor they attempted to explain what happened:
“We began an audit to test the accuracy and veracity of the list, and while we feel that many of the sites did have a track record of publishing unreliable information, our review found weaknesses in the methodology. We detected inconsistencies between the findings of the original databases that were the sources for the list and our own rendering of the final report.”
Additionally, in a tweet sent out just this morning, they went further in explaining.
We’ve taken this list down after finding inconsistencies in the methodology. We regret that we failed to ensure that the data was rigorous before publication, and apologize for the confusion and agitation caused by its publication.
TRANSLATION: We just copied a bunch of lists from a number of questionable fact-checking websites without doing the research ourselves.
For an outlet that drapes itself as an arbiter of journalistic standards to push out such a disreputable and flawed measurement of news sites is beyond an embarrassment. The problems behind this were deep and significant, and it has seen Poynter descend to the level of irresponsible journalism it was reputedly condemning.
The author of this report was Barrett Golding, from the growingly ridiculed Southern Poverty Law Center. For his compilation, Golding relied on lists of sites compiled at disreputable fact-checking outlets such as Snopes, and PolitiFact.
And, as many noted, the list had a very distinct right-of-center feel. Nearly the entire list was made up of outlets with a conservative bent, and this was by design. It was just under two years ago when Poynter made the announcement it received $1.3 million to begin work on its International Fact Checking Network. This week’s blacklist derived from that very segment of the Poynter entity, and it becomes clear this was a purchased attempt at slandering right-of-center outlets.
That huge windfall Poynter proudly announced came from two sources. Leftist billionaire Pierre Omidyar (he being the money behind the supposed “conservative” Never-Trump cranksite The Bulwark) donated through his Omidyar Network. The other source of that funding comes from The Open Society Foundations, the George Soros philanthropic organization.
Understanding this backing it makes far more sense why this now deposed list of “problematic” news sources was made up primarily of conservative outlets. It also explains why it included a rather activist tone in carrying the message for advertisers on how to boycott those outlets.
Once exposed for the biased hit job that this was the Poynter blacklist has disappeared. The list that declared particular outlets were only “clickbait” is now unclickable. Beyond that, the outlet that decreed certain sites to be “unreliable” has now become exactly that, the very thing they claimed to address.