The Poynter Institute has apologized and retracted a controversial new list of “unreliable” news publications that included respected conservative news outlets such as the Washington Examiner and Washington Free Beacon.
Poynter, a nonprofit, Florida-based journalism school, drew backlash Tuesday after posting a list, titled, “UnNews,” which included 515 news websites that the institute deemed “unreliable.”
The list included multiple conservative news websites, such as Breitbart News, CNSNews.com, The Daily Wire, Drudge Report, Washington Free Beacon, Judicial Watch, The Blaze, Twitchy and the Washington Examiner.
The index was created with the help Barrett Golding, a researcher and podcast producer for the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Poynter editor-in-chief Barbara Allen issued an apology Thursday, saying the list was based on a flawed methodology that would need to be reworked.
“Soon after we published, we received complaints from those on the list and readers who objected to the inclusion of certain sites, and the exclusion of others,” Ms. Allen wrote in a statement. “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. 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.
“Therefore, we are removing this unreliable sites list until we are able to provide our audience a more consistent and rigorous set of criteria,” she continued. “The list was intended to be a starting place for readers and journalists to learn more about the veracity of websites that purported to offer news; it was not intended to be definitive or all encompassing. We regret that we failed to ensure that the data was rigorous before publication, and apologize for the confusion and agitation caused by its publication. We pledge to continue to hold ourselves to the highest standards.”
A tweet by Mr. Golding celebrating that his project had gone public remained on his Twitter feed as of Friday afternoon.