News Mixer – a great new tool for news discussion and fact-checking
The recently released test site for News Mixer is a tool for discussing news and posting your own. The focus is on Eastern Iowa – the project is a collaboration between the Medill School for Journalism‘s Crunchberry project and Gazette Communications in Cedar Rapids. So it’s not – atleast not yet – a global or even nation-wide service. But it’s attracting interest because it’s quite cleverly set up. It plugs into Facebook though Facebook Connect, so when you’ve connected your account, you can see who of your Facebook contacts are on News Mixer and follow their actions on the site.
The site has received a lot of love in the comments in the sidebar. What I like most about it is the way that any story can be scrutinized paragraph by paragraph by adding questions and answers, thus providing a tool for collaborative fact-checking and discussion about the validity of statements. It is also a social tool, letting me know when my contacts have been active on the site. And it flattens the news hierarchy (though not completely – you cannot add questions or answers to stories posted by users, and those are limited to 250 words). The news can come from traditional news stories or from other members (through letters to the editor), questions can be posed by anyone, replied by anyone (not just the reporter/writer) and anyone can comment.
Joshua Pollock writes at the Crunchberry project blog:
it harnesses the credibility of an established media company, leverages existing online social networks and gives people a constructive way to interact with each other and the news.
Comments, called quips in News Mixer lingo, are limited to 140 characters, making them similar to microblogging posts.
And, last but not least, it’s open source. So Eastern Iowa will be the first site in what will probably be a long number of local and national efforts. Looking forward to see this evolve. I hope to see a Swedish site not too far off in the future.