How a new experiment could usefully challenge news judgments

A word on behalf of The Messenger Scale


I want this week to focus on a new innovation that strikes me as very interesting, perhaps especially because it comes from an unexpected source.

The source is the much-derided new publication The Messenger, and the innovation is their Scale, which they describe as “like the Richter Scale for earthquakes, but for news.”

Here’s how it works: When news breaks, The Messenger polls a group of about 80 experienced observers (“from the worlds of politics, policy, law, history, academia and media”) it has assembled — quite consciously from across the political spectrum — and asks them to quickly rank the news on a scale of 1 to 10. It then publishes the average score from the group, as well as a selection of brief (optional) explanations for the ranking. At first, the experiment was limited to stories around the various Trump-related scandals, but starting last week it broadened out to occasionally include items like the debt ceiling deal.

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