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Poynter dumps news blacklist amid backlash

Amid a backlash, the nonprofit Poynter Institute on Thursday night removed its list of more than 500 news websites it deemed “unreliable.”

As WND reported Wednesday, the newsites Poynter wants blacklisted and shut down include WND, the Drudge Report, the Washington Free Beacon, the Washington Examiner, the Daily Caller and Breitbart News.

Poynter managing editor Barbara Allen said in a statement on the journalism organization’s website that complaints about the list came immediately after it was published.

There were readers, she said, who “objected to the inclusion of certain sites, and the exclusion of others.”

“We began an audit to test the accuracy and veracity of the list, and while we feel that many of the sites did have a track record of publishing unreliable information, our review found weaknesses in the methodology,” she said. “We detected inconsistencies between the findings of the original databases that were the sources for the list and our own rendering of the final report.”

Allen said Poynter is “removing this unreliable sites list until we are able to provide our audience a more consistent and rigorous set of criteria.”

‘Useful for advertisers’

Poynter claims on its “About” page that “it champions freedom of expression,” but it posted its “index of unreliable news sites” with a call for advertisers to put the sites out of business.

Facebook, as WND reported, commissioned Poynter to approve the organizations it uses to fact check “fake news,” which include the Associated Press, FackCheck.org, PolitiFact and Snopes.

In its introduction to the “UnNews index,” Poynter hoped it would be “useful for advertisers that want to stop funding misinformation.”

“Advertisers don’t want to support publishers that might tar their brand with hate speech, falsehoods or some kinds of political messaging – but too often, they have little choice in the matter,” Poynter said.

“Most ad-tech dashboards make it hard for businesses to prevent their ads from appearing on (and funding) disreputable sites. Marketers can create blacklists, but many of those lists have been out-of-date or incomplete.

“Aside from journalists, researchers and news consumers, we hope that the UnNews index will be useful for advertisers that want to stop funding misinformation.”

Single source

Breitbart News Editor-at-Large John Nolte pointed out in a column Wednesday that Poynter cited a single source to justify its listing of most of the organizations, OpenSources, which is curated by an assistant professor from Merrimack College, Melissa Zimdars.

WND previously reported Zimdars is a 30-something self-identified feminist and activist who has expressed great dislike for President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence.

Merrimack College assistant professor Melissa Zimdars, author of the “fake news” list circulated online (Photo: Twitter)

Nolte noted she’s the author of academic papers such as “Watching Our Weights: The Consequences and Contradictions of Televising Fatness in the ‘Obesity Epidemic'” and “Having It Both Ways: ‘Two and a Half Men,’ ‘Entourage’ and the Televising of Juvenile Postfeminist Masculinity.”

OpenSources has no explanation of her methodology.

In an interview two years ago, she said one of her criteria for blacklisting a site is “hate,” based on the judgment of the discredited, far-left Southern Poverty Law Center.

‘Relentlessly and deliberately misled’

Among the other groups on the Poynter blacklist were Media Research Center, Pajamas Media, The Daily Wire, The Blaze, Red State, Project Veritas, Newsmax, Zero Hedge, LifeSite, Judicial Watch and Frontpage Magazine.

Nolte argued it’s outlets such as CNN, the New York Times, the Washington Post, NPR, ABC, CBS, PBS, NBC, MSNBC, Politico and BuzzFeed that should be held accountable for “relentlessly and deliberately misled the American people on the biggest stories of the day.”

Among the big blunders, he said, are coverage of the Trayvon Martin assault, “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot,” Russia collusion, the Brett Kavanaugh serial rapist claim and the charges of racism against the Covington High School boys.

He pointed out it was Breitbart and other news outlets on Poynter’s blacklist that got those stories right, in contrast to establishment media.