A weekly column profiling companies and personalities. This week:
What: SpinSpotter, Seattle
Who: Todd Herman, 41, founder and chief creative officer
Mission: Focus on news reporting by calling attention to perceptions of bias and spin, turning back the tide of “identity journalism” and analysis in news stories.
Spin no more: News stories contain facts (who, what, where, etc.) and interpretation. SpinSpotter seeks to eliminate the latter by encouraging reporters not to rely on the “Seven Deadly Spins”: personal voice, passive voice, biased source, disregarded context, selective disclosure, lack of balance and over-reliance on news releases.
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Social editing: Users install two-way “spinoculars” on their browser, which allows them to mark what they see as bias on certain stories. They also can view notations left by others. The software works independently of the site with the content and does not change the content itself. The SpinSpotter site links to the five most popular news sites, but the process works on any site as long as the software is installed.
Financials: The private company doesn’t disclose any financial details or profitability projections. The financial model includes advertising and professional services (removing spin from documents for a fee). The company will rely on volunteer spin catchers to build and maintain its spin knowledge base.
Flack aid: Herman, who has a background in media, including MSN, said the company expects to develop a client base in public relations. “Agencies realize their news releases get more attention if they tone down the spin,” he said.
Family values: Herman thinks SpinSpotter will elevate the quality of news coverage and political discourse by giving site users access to the facts they need to have a meaningful disagreement. And while many journalists hate the very idea of SpinSpotter, Herman said they embrace the idea once they see how it can improve the quality of their reporting.
— Charles Bermant