The Media Standards Trust in association with the Web Science Research Initiative has been given a grant from the MacArthur Foundation and Knight News Challenge award from the Knight Foundation to explore and develop ways in which to help people find and assess news content on the web.
Since 2008 we have been researching and developing methodologies to make the provenance of news more transparent (i.e. more ‘machine-readable’) for the benefit of news organisations, journalists and the public.
This is not about pejorative or judgmental information, rather the basic who, what, when and where of a news article. The equivalent, if you like, of ingredients of the side of a food packet - giving people the information they need to enable them to make informed choices.
It tells people reading the article (or searching for it):
The purpose of Value Added News is to make basic information about the authorship and edit history of an online news article distinct and consistent such that:
Though it has been developed for news text articles there is no reason why it should not be adapted for use with audio or video content.
This, the first version of Value Added News, has been developed to be as simple, usable, and extensible as possible and builds on pre-existing microformats, particularly hAtom.
A microformat is a simple set of conventions for web pages. It is designed to be human readable, but also to enable automatic extraction of the semantic information (for a background on microformats, see http://microformats.org)
Microformats are - as the originators explain:
“Designed for humans first and machines second, microformats are a set of simple, open data formats built upon existing and widely adopted standards. Instead of throwing away what works today, microformats intend to solve simpler problems first by adapting to current behaviors and usage patterns.”
The principles of microformats fit very well with the principles underlying the news transparency initiative:
Microformats are an open standard that can be easily supported by 3rd party application developers once the format is published, enabling writers and editors to easily generate microformats for their articles as an integrated step in the production process.
We also intend to identify the same information using RDFa (Resource Description Framework - in - attributes) but decided to start with microformats since they are easier to use and currently more well used on the web.