The Lessons of Poynter's Retracted 'Unreliable News' Blacklist

Last month, the Poynter Institute, home of PolitiFact, published through its International Fact-Checking Network a list of what it deemed “unreliable news websites,” promoting it as a “blacklist … useful for advertisers that want to stop funding misinformation.” The database was hand-curated by IFCN from five previous lists (including those produced by PolitiFact itself as well as and Snopes), a process by which sites such as AlterNet and Think Progress were removed while others such as Breitbart and Daily Caller were retained. Yet two days after publishing the list, Poynter retracted it, citing “weaknesses in the methodology” and “inconsistencies.” This saga raises many troubling concerns about fact-checking and its future.

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