Tuesday, September 9, 2008 2:30 PM
With the notion of "journalistic objectivity" regarded as either quaint or used as a cudgel in the partisan political wars of left and right, SpinSpotter launches this week as self-imposed referee. The site, currently identified as being in "very beta," has received an undisclosed amount of funding from Epic Ventures and unidentified angel backers, though a spokesperson declined to offer details. Stressing its non-partisan stance, leadership of San Diego-based SpinSpotter is represented in theCrossfirestyle, with founder and former Microsoft ( NSDQ: MSFT) exec Todd Herman identified as the conservative and CEO John Atcheson, formerly of RealNetworks ( NSDQ: RNWK), described as the liberal. The site also has a downloadable toolbar called the Spinocular, which will let users view, share, and edit what they consider bias anywhere on the web. So far, it's only available for Firefox, with an Internet Explorer version planned. Release.
More after the jump?
Since the truth cuts across the right-left divide, Herman tells BW that the real policing of political spin will come from its users in the form of a Wikipedia-like editing. Hoping to avoid tarring whole sites as either in the tank for conservatives or liberals, NYT says SpinSpotter's criteria for identifying bias is based on the Society of Professional Journalists' Code of Ethics. The tripwires are "personal voice, passive voice, a biased source, disregarded context, selective disclosure and lack of balance." And in a feature that will alternately amuse and frighten journalists even more, SpinSpotter is developing alerts if a story uses suspiciously similar language to a press release.
The recent uproar overUSWeekly'stake on Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin suggests that web users are quick to root out perceived journalistic bias. But like Politico.com, which just launched its ad net this week, has found, it faces a challenge of keeping users interested when the heat of the campaign cools down after the November elections.