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Newsguard downgrades credibility scores for New York Times, GB News and Daily Star

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News publisher rating company Newsguard has downgraded its credibility score for The New York Times, removing the perfect rating the title held since Newsguard first launched in 2018.

GB News and the Daily Star have also lost points and others – including Fox News, MSNBC and Mail Online – have had their previous drops reaffirmed.

GB News told Press Gazette that Newsguard is a “commercial outfit seeking to profit from self-created criteria and wholly untested methods”.

Following the New York Times ratings update, Press Gazette looked at a selection of 84 leading English language news websites and found nearly half have perfect scores and three-quarters had a score above 80 out of the maximum 100 (see full list below).

Seven websites had scores below 60, which Newsguard previously used as the minimum passing score to be considered a generally credible publisher.


Newsguard markets its database of ratings to advertisers, tech platforms and internet service providers, and in theory those customers could use the scores to decide, for example, which sites to place programmatic adverts on or surface in news feeds. But it is unknown how many customers Newsguard has or who they are.

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US-based Newsguard says it employs a team of journalists to rate publishers on credibility and transparency (full criteria here).

Disclosure: the author of this article worked for Newsguard between 2018 and 2021, and wrote earlier versions of some of the reviews covered.

The New York Times’ Newsguard score: 87.5 out of 100

The New York Times’ review was updated at the start of February to remove its passing grade on the “handles the difference between news and opinion responsibly” criterion, which is worth 12.5 out of the 100 points.

Newsguard said that “derision of Trump courses through basic news stories” on the NYT website, citing as an example a January story which it said “reads like an editorial”.

The news article in dispute said: “Trump’s strategy aims to upend a world in which he has publicly called for suspending the Constitution, vowed to turn political opponents into legal targets and suggested that the nation’s top military general should be executed.”

Similarly, Newsguard noted that an August news story on former Republican candidate Vivek Ramaswamy said he had “harnessed his populist bravado while frequently and unapologetically contorting the truth for political gain”.

The downgrade brings The New York Times’ review in line with that of CNN, which Newsguard previously ruled also “frequently includes unlabelled opinion in news articles and video clips that appear alongside straightforward news clips”.

The Washington Post, another major liberal-leaning title, retains its perfect Newsguard score but was last reviewed in May 2023.

Other sites Newsguard says fail the news and opinion criterion include the Daily Mirror, The Daily Beast and Huffpost. All three have overall scores of 87.5, like the NYT.

A spokesperson for the NYT said: “The Times’s standards and journalistic processes are the most robust and rigorous of any news organisation in the country. Our news and opinion coverage are now, and have always been, clearly presented as distinct and serving different purposes for our audience.”

GB News: 64.5

In late December Newsguard updated its review for GBNews.com to say it fails the “gathers and presents information responsibly” criterion, pointing to the publication of “false claims on important topics including Covid-19 vaccines and climate change”.

The criterion is worth 18 out of the 100 total points, the most of any after “does not repeatedly publish false or egregiously misleading content”, which is worth 22.

Newsguard picked out as an example an August article by Laurence Fox – who has since been fired from GB News – that described climate change as a “confected crisis” and said “we should reject” the claim “that mankind is the reason for any change in climate”.

Newsguard also queried a May 2023 story which apparently inaccurately reported that American retailer Target was selling a type of swimwear intended for transgender people to children. The apparel, known as “tuck-friendly” swimwear, has extra material to help transgender women deemphasise their genitals.

Newsguard said “Target is not selling ‘tuck-friendly’ swimwear for children and it never did so, according to a company spokesperson and a Newsguard review of the retailer’s apparel on its site”, adding that the store has carried such swimwear previously for adults.

The credibility rater also decided that, like The New York Times, GB News does not responsibly handle the separation of news and opinion. Whereas the NYT lost those points because it includes opinionated statements in articles labelled as news, Newsguard said GB News fails because it “consistently approaches coverage from an undisclosed right-leaning perspective”.

Newsguard noted that the GB News editorial charter states it is “balanced and fair in our coverage”. Newsguard said this was at odds with the broadcaster’s practice of employing serving Conservative politicians and the general tenor of its coverage.

GB News does not appear to have ever given Newsguard a formal response and a channel spokesperson told Press Gazette last week this would continue to be the case.

“Newsguard is a commercial, for-profit organisation whose business model is to act as the self-appointed arbiter of news accuracy on the internet,” the spokesperson said. “It has an opaque scoring process and claims it reviews a sample of output to make its judgements but does not disclose what this is.

“While it rates GB News as ‘credible’, NewsGuard nonetheless makes grossly untrue generalisations about our news gathering operation which do not reflect the high standards we set ourselves and our journalists. We answer to the law and our audience, not to commercial outfits seeking to profit from self-created criteria and wholly untested methods.

“We do not respond to queries from NewsGuard and we are not alone: many other major UK news organisations take the same approach. We made one exception recently to correct NewsGuard on a clear factual inaccuracy in a claim they made about us.

“GB News has broadcast almost 20,000 hours of news, opinion and debate since launch, and published more than 50,000 original articles on our news website. We will not be judged on this by an unregulated outfit that seeks to justify its existence and make money by appointing itself as some sort of guardian of the internet.”

Daily Star: 69.5

Newsguard says the Reach-owned Daily Star “frequently” publishes unsubstantiated stories about Vladimir Putin being dead and about the existence of aliens.

“Between October and November 2023, the site published more than 20 articles repeating claims made by the Telegram channel General SVR” about Putin being dead or gravely ill, Newsguard said. “The articles claimed that Putin had died from a heart attack after being severely ill for two years with various illnesses, and that a body double is now standing in for him to keep his death a secret.”

The articles often ended by citing Kremlin denials that Putin is ill, Newsguard said, but “in a manner that gives the countervailing evidence significantly less prominence than the baseless claim”.

Newsguard docked the Daily Star the 18 points associated with “gathering and presenting information responsibly” because of these and other stories, as well as a further 12.5 points for not issuing corrections on the stories under dispute.

Asked about the alien articles last summer, the Star responded by mocking the fact-checkers as “fun sponges” on its front page. When Newsguard approached the publication again in January, the Star’s associate editor Andrew Gilpin responded saying: “1) How do you know Putin is not dead? 2) How do you know aliens don’t exist?”

The Daily Star's 2023 front page about "fun sponges" Newsguard. Picture: Reach
The Daily Star’s 2023 front page about “fun sponges” Newsguard. Picture: Reach

Mail Online: 64.5

Newsguard and Mail Online have a testy history, with the ratings company declaring the Mail an unreliable news source in 2019 only to reverse course and instead issue it with a low passing grade shortly afterward.

Mail Online’s score does not appear to have improved since, despite multiple reviews. The most recent update was made in October 2023, and says that despite publishing some impactful original reporting, the site has “promoted false claims on important topics including the US migrant crisis, the Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine”.

Newsguard cited a May 2023 Mail story that connected the eviction of 15 homeless veterans from a New York state hotel to “an influx of migrants” caused by the policies of New York City mayor Eric Adams.

The veterans, Newsguard said, were in fact residents of a nearby homeless shelter who were “coached to appear as homeless veterans”. Ten days after the article was published the Mail added a note at the end acknowledging allegations that the story was a hoax, but “the body of the story was not corrected”, Newsguard said.

The credibility company also pointed to a Mail story covering the same “tuck-friendly” swimwear story over which it rebuked GB News, as well as incorrect stories about the Ukraine war and Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden.

Newsguard failed the Mail on the corrections criterion because of what it described as a common practice of removing inaccuracies without acknowledging them or failing to remove errors at all.

Despite those rulings, Mail Online does meet Newsguard’s standard for splitting news from opinion. The review said that although the site does not disclose a political orientation, “in spite of its reputation as a conservative publication, Mail Online’s politics coverage on any given day rarely betrays an obvious slant”.

Joe.co.uk: 55

Like The New York Times, Newsguard said the website of Joe Media, joe.co.uk, “frequently publishes stories labelled as news that contain opinion”.

However, the site also fails four other criteria that pull its score down to 55, making it the seventh-lowest rated site Press Gazette reviewed.

As well as the opinion and news issues, Newsguard said it only managed to find two corrections the site had published since 2015 and that the site failed to identify its ownership and editors and to clearly label advertising.

The Sun: 69.5

Like The Daily Star, Newsguard docked The Sun points on the “gathering and presenting information responsibly” and corrections criteria.

The rater said in its most recent update in October that The Sun “has published multiple articles that advanced inaccurate claims related to health”, citing two 2023 stories that misreported on government data and a medical study.

Newsguard also rebuked the publisher for its coverage of Putin’s health, which it said had, like the Star, relied on an anonymous Telegram channel for information.

Fox News: 69.5

In July 2022 Newsguard updated Fox News’ rating to say that the site no longer met the standard for “gathering and presenting news responsibly”.

The review was updated in December with new examples upholding that decision, including an October article suggesting Covid-19 vaccines increase the risk of catching the virus and one from November that reported police escorted the “Qanon Shaman” through the US Capitol during the January 2021 insurrection, rather than arresting him.

MSNBC: 49.5

The review for MSNBC, which lost its “gathering and presenting news responsibly” pass shortly after Fox did, has similarly been updated with fresh examples upholding that change.

It cites, for example “six videos that inaccurately described the criminal case against Donald Trump on charges that he improperly handled government documents as an ‘espionage’ case”.

MSNBC has a lower score than Fox because Newsguard says it inadequately distinguishes between news and opinion on the website and does not identify its owners NBCUniversal and Comcast.

Of the sites reviewed by Press Gazette, the only ones to score lower were Chinese stage news agency CGTN (44.5 points), Fox News competitor Newsmax (20), Russian government propaganda outlet RT (20) and The Epoch Times (17.5), a Trump-aligned newspaper produced by adherents of the exiled Chinese spiritual movement Falun Gong.

Email pged@pressgazette.co.uk to point out mistakes, provide story tips or send in a letter for publication on our “Letters Page” blog

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