BuzzFeed News just came out with a big story entitled “President Trump Directed His Attorney Michael Cohen to Lie to Congress About the Moscow Project,” which has been disputed by the Special Counsel’s office. Whenever a single major news org reports a big, exclusive, consequential story, which is not shortly verified by other major outlets, it is best to reserve judgment on its veracity for about a week. Other news outlets (i.e., BuzzFeed’s competitors and colleagues) are doing the work to find out exactly what happened. This is the great thing about the media ecosystem—everything is instantly peer reviewed. This allows you to trust that a combination of reputable sources will get to the truth even if one is wrong. Given that all humans and therefore all outlets get things wrong, the question isn’t “can I trust this news source to give me the truth 100% of the time?” The answer has to be no, for every source. The question for savvy news consumers should be “can I trust these combinations of news sources to give me the best information available to journalists at this time?” If you select the right combination, the answer is yes.
For this BuzzFeed News story, it’s important to figure out if and how the story may be wrong; it makes a difference whether reporters were misled, or if they made a mistake, or if the writers were being deceptive, or if they ignored journalistic standards, or if they were ultimately right. The last option (whether they were right) will likely take a long time to be determined. For the purposes of the chart, though, we will typically wait a week for the journalism community to figure out what happened before ranking that article. If it is a very bad ranking, it will weight the moving overall source ranking for a while (e.g., three months), but that can recover over time. How an organization deals with a mistake or journalistic breach matters in its long-term ranking. Of course, these movements will only be visible when we release the interactive version of the chart and are not visible now.
Another note on BuzzFeed News—we rank the site http://www.buzzfeednews.com, which reflects the news division of the company, and not https://www.buzzfeed.com/, which has entertainment content like animal videos and quizzes.