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TRUST INDICATORS: GOTTA CATCH EM ALL

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 20 years, you should know what Pokemon is—along with the famous catchphrase Gotta catch ’em all. (Yes, there’s even a theme song that will likely knock your socks off.)

Just like catching all the Pokemon, as consumers of news we should look to capture all of the Trust Indicators for news publications. This is done just by ticking off each of the Trust Project’s eight indicators.

Journalist info

Several of Arizona Daily Star’s articles are written by actual people, but a good amount of the articles are authored by the source they received the information from. Some national or world news articles are just regurgitating word for word from AP news.

Looking into the biographies of some of the journalists, one biography states “local government reporter.” With no other information or credentials provided. Some other biographies are more promising—as they offer up a list of awards along with details of professional experience.

Overall, every journalist has a biography and a photo—which is promising. At least here, we can see who is writing the articles we’re reading and learn a bit more about them or even Google them if we want more information.

Labels

The website separates opinion and news and properly labels opinion as such. News is then dissected by category—such as local news, arts and theater, world news. Sponsored articles are also labeled.

References

Looking deeper into one article in particular that was labeled a “top story”— the article continued to use the phrase “public records showed” without hyperlinking to these public records or being specific about what public records they are so people can go digging for the source if need be.

As a reader, I certainly shouldn’t have to go digging through the internet to find the vague ‘public records’ which the article is referring to—it should be hyperlinked in the text for readers to easily peruse and verify.

Regardless, information within Arizona Daily Star’s many other articles are verifiable with a bit of Internet digging.

Photos, on the other hand, are always properly sourced to the photographer or original maker—which is definitely a plus.

Local

The website separates local news from national and world news. The journalists appear to be Arizonians themselves. One journalist in particular writes specifically about Arizona mining history and is an author of five books.

A quick Google search of several of the journalists tells me that each one is an Arizonian and has ties to the community in some way.

Diverse Voices

The local opinions and news sections of the website appears to provide diverse voices from LGBTQ+ folks, and those with disabilities.

Actionable Feedback

There appears to be a way to leave comments underneath opinion articles, however I haven’t seen the same for local or national news articles.

Methods

Arizona Daily Star’s reports are in-depth, with research and quotes which results in rich and fulfilled reporting. As a reader, we can tell that the journalists take their time to locate information from multiple avenues and put it together to create a cohesive picture.

Best Practices

I couldn’t locate Arizona Daily Star’s standards of practice or ethics when it comes to their reporting. There are no indicated list of rules or ethics for the publication’s journalists to follow. If they have these standards of practice, they’re certainly not available to the public.

With a very quick and swift Google search, I found The New York Times standards of practice—an entire handbook of “values and practices for news and opinion departments.”

Overall assessment:

Total score: 6.75/8—pretty good, but not perfect.

As a whole this website is really not into hyperlinking sources—regardless of journalist—which I found to be disappointing. (This is why they’ve been awarded 6.75 instead of 7.)

However, after conducting some fact-checks, information seems to be trustworthy. News is separated from opinion and labeled as such. Unfortunately, the news publication doesn’t have their own standards of practice or ethics for public eyes to view which is also disappointing.

There are some links within their website that are not secure—http instead of https. (For instance, this link to their classified section.) This doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the trustworthiness of its contents but rather the trustworthiness of the website’s security.

Arizona Daily Star offers some transparency by offering comments underneath articles as well as having biographies and photos of journalists for readers to verify their credentials.

Overall, Arizona Daily Star is trustworthy. However, if you’re unsure about some of the website’s information or claims, I recommend you do a Google search since they do not offer hyperlinked sources within their articles.

Journalist info

Where are the authors? Someone had to have written these articles, and yet there is not any journalist specified that I could find. Instead, each article states “By East Arizona News”.

This is a big red flag.

Labels

Opinion and political news are seemingly melded together into one. Take the headline on the left for example. It’s completely opinion based but its parading as factual political news. This is another big red flag. The purpose of the article is not clearly stated as opinion, when it should be.

Not properly labeling the articles is deceiving to their audience.

References

At the end of East Arizona News’ articles, the website will sometimes put the words “original source can be found here.” I found some of their sources to be from Facebook (Like this news article, here)—which is not a reliable source of information.

Other times, the articles will have embedded hyperlinks to sources within the text, but upon further inspection the hyperlinks seemingly go to the source’s homepage—not the actual text of the source for readers to verify the claims.

This is also a red flag.

To do a bit of fact-checking, I couldn’t locate any other publications to back up the claims from the article above; it seems to be completely fabricated.

Some articles are drawn from fact, however, like this article about DinĂ© college and ASU partnering up—they’ve also hyperlinked the source to the actual press release for further inspection.

Overall, it’s a hit and miss situation (more miss than hit, really) with East Arizona News providing references and true information.

Local

It’s impossible to tell whether the authors of this website have local expertise or knowledge about their Arizonian community because the authors are anonymous.

Because of this, we have no idea where East Arizona News’ journalists reside—they may not even live in Arizona.

At this point, there is no way to know.

Diverse Voices

In order for a news publication to have diverse voices, there first has to be journalists with distinct voices. Because there aren’t any journalists specified (as they are anonymous) it causes for information to be blurred into one homogenous voice. The information is clearly right-leaning, but the website doesn’t offer varying points of view on topics.

A lot of the political news that gets reported from East Arizona News has to do with people donating to Walter Jack Blackman’s campaign. There are so many of these “articles”—I counted up to 70, but there were many more beyond that. It seems like spam—its just words with no distinct voice, research or reasoning.

Actionable Feedback

There isn’t an opportunity for readers to add comments or feedback to any of the articles.

Methods

As readers, we have no idea as to why East Arizona News chose to publish well over 70 articles about supposed donations to a political republican candidate named Walter Jack Blackman. Not knowing this information leaves the reader in the dark as to why this it is important enough to report continuously. These ‘spam’ like articles also suggest that the publication’s ‘news’ isn’t rich in content or well balanced.

The question of in-depth reporting also comes to mind. East Arizona News doesn’t appear to research or investigate in their reporting; their articles are quite short and without much context or substance which suggests the publication doesn’t put effort into researching topics.

Best Practices

Standards of practice and journalistic ethics are not specified or laid out anywhere within the website. One would assume that such ethics do not exist for East Arizona News as some information within their articles is seemingly made-up.

Overall assessment:

Total score: 0/8—ouch.

This website should not be trusted—as it raised red flags on all eight of the trust indicators— this website was not able to pass even one.

The big three trust indicators are the most concerning, such as the absence of authors on all of the articles, the lack of labeling articles as opinion and passing them off as factual news and linking to untrustworthy references or reporting false information. These are all indicative of a source that should not be trusted.

East Arizona News sometimes provides reputable sources and other times doesn’t—other times even fabricating information. Maybe if they attempted to make corrections with their articles, the good would cancel out the bad. Instead, incorrect information is left for others to continue reading which is ultimately deceiving and the very antithesis of transparency.

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When going through news sites, use the trust indicator checklist and remember—if you want to make sure a website is 100% trustworthy, then you’ve gotta catch em all!

*all Pokemon images are from Pixabay + made with Canva and are free to use. Image links: 1 / 2

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