NewsGuard is ‘Reviewing’ Every Indy Media Site on the Web – READ Their Email Exchange with Waking Times

By Dylan Charles, Editor, Waking Times

If you’re half awake today you already know that in the last couple of years we have officially entered the era of digital censorship. Independent media organizations with hard-earned followings have been de-platformed from social media and have been ejected from online business services, bankrupting many of them. This happens mostly for ambiguous reasons relating to supposed community guidelines, but the more time goes by and the more outlets that get banned and censored, the clearer it becomes that someone up high has a real problem with independent thinking.

Media companies and small websites like mine, WakingTimes.com, have seen drastic reductions in social media reach, if not banned altogether. Our YouTube account was deleted in 2017 for no clear reason, nuking a bunch of interviews I had with amazing people like Edgar Mitchell and David Icke. We’ve seen major cuts to our organic search engine traffic, and we’ve had numerous ‘fake news’ watchdog sites add our name to blacklists of sites that are supposedly doing the world harm. Usually these sites are anonymous and offer no way to seek recourse.

Now, however, a new organization is working to position itself as the end-all-be-all of Internet truth, and they have already developed partnerships with major tech companies, including Microsoft. NewsGuard is essentially a browser plug-in that will stand between you and the content you want to see, flashing you with warning labels, hoping to scare you away from sites and content that their organization has decided are unsafe for the Net. This wouldn’t be a big deal if it were voluntary but this plug-in will soon be automatically installed for you on a number of browsers and operating systems.

Now, I’m somewhat unique in that I don’t take kindly to bullying of any sort, and strong-arming really chaps my ass. You might also say I’m a bit paranoid, but that doesn’t mean they’re not out to get me. LOL (that’s one of my favorite jokes, btw)

I guess, though, when you dive deeply into the shit storm that is modern life in a world with corrupt states and corporate oligarchs,  you start to really understand the value of your own sovereignty and look for ways to establish boundaries. And when everyone you admire is being put up against the wall, you realize that at some point you’re not going to have anything else to lose. That being silent and passive no longer serves as merits.

And while all of this sucks, for sure, I’ve never been one to complain. If life puts up roadblocks on one path, it’s better to start carving a new one. That’s the Taoist in me, I suppose. It’s also easier than ever for me these days to see the bigger, cosmic picture in all of this.

None of us get off this rock alive, but that doesn’t automatically mean that any of us really live either. You have to choose to be the creator of your own life, which is challenging to do when so many petty tyrants and overpaid a-holes want to control you.

So, you’re free to look up NewsGuard online, I won’t bother linking to them, and to make your own opinion of them, but since it’s not in my nature to endure arrogance and bullying I thought it would be fun to post here a recent email thread I had with them.

In a nutshell, they’ve been contacting sites like mine with a list of questions seeking to establish their dominance as the authority on objective journalism and the prevailing champion of public thought-safety on the Net. I disagree whole-heartedly with their mission, as I don’t believe that you or anyone else needs a for-profit company protecting you from ideas and words.

In truth, though, Internet censorship has already gone so far that none of us really have anything left to lose. I think we might as well at least make it known that we do not consent to being policed by fascist organizations masquerading as polite, good-cop, objective, safety buddies, whom we have to accept into our lives or else have our business shut down and wiped off the Net.

Anyhow, here is an exchange of four emails I recently had with NewsGuard staff. By posting this I am hoping to create awareness about just how institutionalized Internet censorship is becoming, and also to provide inspiration for other hard-working journalists like myself who may not have yet developed the courage to stand up for themselves when approached by organizations like this.

Resistance is a spiritual affair. It is an intentional confrontation with fear, and an act of sincere self love.

Read on if you’re interested to know how your favorite blogs and indy media sites are being butt-sniffed by over-funded corporate watch dog organizations like NewsGuard.


NewsGuard Email # 1 from Nina Zweig, NewsGuard Staff Analyst

Hi Dylan and Anna,

My name is Nina Zweig, and I’m a reporter for NewsGuard Technologies, a new service that reviews news and information websites for credibility and transparency based on widely accepted journalistic standards. These reviews, which include a written summary and a checklist of nine criteria, are intended to help readers have more context for the news they read online.

We’re reviewing WakingTimes.com, and I have a few questions about the site’s editorial standards and transparency practices that I’m reaching out to get your comment on:

1. One of NewsGuard’s criteria is whether a site regularly corrects or clarifies errors. I found one recent correction on the site, but could not find any others published after 2015. Would you be able to send me a few examples of corrections recently published by Waking Times?

2. Who is responsible for editing Waking Times’s content?

3. Another NewsGuard criterion concerns whether a website’s headlines are accurate. How do you — or whomever edits the site’s content — ensure that Waking Times’s headlines do not contain false information?

4. Can you comment on how Waking Times verifies the accuracy of claims such as those made about the safety of vaccines and 5G cellphone technology, or the existence of “chemtrails”?

5. Do you consider Waking Times to have a particular perspective? I see that you outline some of your beliefs on the site’s About page — could you elaborate on what’s included there?

6. Does WakingTimes.com disclose its ownership by Waking Media in any location other than its copyright statement?

7. Another thing that NewsGuard looks for in our review process is whether a site consistently provides the names of content creators, including either biographical information or contact details. This information seems to be missing from some Waking Times articles. Could you comment on how Waking Times readers can contact writers or learn about their background?

Thank you for your time. I hope to hear from you soon.

Best,

Nina Zweig
Staff Analyst
(860) 577-0374
NewsGuard Technologies
Download NewsGuard for your browser: Click here.\
Follow NewsGuard on Twitter: @NewsGuardRating


Reply #1 by Dylan Charles, Editor of Waking Times

Hi Nina,

I’ve been looking forward to hearing from NewGuard, so it’s great to finally get a note of interest from you. I’m eager to answering your questions, but first, I do have some I have some questions of my own, if you would be so kind as to indulge me here.

Firstly, though, I am the editor and founder of the site, and Anna is no longer with us, so please consider myself to be your contact. I am the sole person responsible for the all of the content on the site.

My questions for you:

– I understand the NewsGuard is tasking itself with addressing ‘fake news’ on the internet, and is partnering with some very big companies to do so, therefore, to gain approval and endorsement from your organization could be very profitable for my business, while being at odds with NewsGuard’s ideology and political positions could prove to be financially devastating for my small business. What exactly do I need to do in order to prevent your organization from slandering myself and my company and thereby causing me grievous financial harm?

– If I politely decline to answer your questions, will it result in my site being slandered and blocked by NewsGuard, thereby causing grievous financial harm to my business, which supports myself, my wife and my three children?

– What are your credentials as a ‘Staff Analyst?’ What background and professional experience do you have, and how does this qualify you to be evaluating and potentially publicly slandering my business?

– Who is your supervisor and how my I personally contact them? Who is the CEO or President of NewsGuard and how may I personally contact them?

– How is NewsGuard funded? What is the profit model you are using to engage in this kind of research, and if it is funded by outside parties or organizations, who are the primary sources sustaining your efforts here? Are you a non-profit, or are you able to make money by harassing and slandering small publications such as mine?

– What are NewsGuard’s political biases and explicit and inexplicit motivations for conducting your work? What are the biases of its owners and leadership? How does NewsGuard intend to maintain objectivity when reviewing sites like mine? Who decides whether or not a bit of information is to be considered factual or not?

– Of the thousands of articles we have posted on hundreds of different topics, why did you only note vaccine, 5G, cell phones, and chemtrails in your email to me? Are these issues somehow of particular concern to NewsGuard, and if so, what are NewsGuard’s official positions on these particular issues?

– Should I happen to be at odds with your positions (which I am legally, ethically, and morally permitted to be), will this result in me being slandered and having my business grievously financially harmed by your organization?

– You asked me about headlines. Have you found any headlines on Waking Times that contain inaccurate information? Please let me know if you do, because the wording of your question implies that there is, and if there is, as editor of the site I certainly would like to know. That said, you might as well have just asked when the last time I beat my wife was. Ha… there’s some humor for you, if you’re allowed to laugh at your job, that is.

– In the past, it has been considered a crime to approach a business owner and strong arm them into complying with demands under threat of grievous financial or bodily harm. Is it legal for NewsGuard to publicly slander and cause grievous financial harm to my business should I choose to exercise my legal right to opt out of your friendly questionnaire?

– Are you capable of ascertaining our editorial perspective by looking at and reading our content, or do you require explanation above and beyond what you see and read on the site?

– Will you please provide me with a detailed list of names, biographical information, and contact info of all the employees, management and ownership of NewsGuard?

– A number of my colleagues and associates have informed me that your organization has treated them exceptionally unfairly and has slandered their organizations, causing them grievous financial harm. What recourse do I have should I experience the same treatment? Is there an appeals process to clear my good name should you ultimately decide to slander my business?

Again, thanks so much for your interest in our work, and I look forward to gaining a more thorough understanding of the scope and intention of your work.

Highest Regards,

_Dylan Charles, Editor
www.WakingTimes.com


News Guard Email #2 from Eric Effron, Editorial Director at NewsGuard

Dear Mr. Charles,

Please see the responses to your questions below that you directed to Nina Zweig. I am NewsGuard’s editorial director, so I thought I would respond myself.

– I understand the NewsGuard is tasking itself with addressing ‘fake news’ on the internet, and is partnering with some very big companies to do so, therefore, to gain approval and endorsement from your organization could be very profitable for my business, while being at odds with NewsGuard’s ideology and political positions could prove to be financially devastating for my small business. What exactly do I need to do in order to prevent your organization from slandering myself and my company and thereby causing me grievous financial harm?

NewsGuard endeavors to review and rate all sites, regardless of ideology, according to nine basic journalistic criteria, which we spell out in detail on our site, www.newsguardtech.com. Before we publish anything about a site that might be seen as criticism, we seek comment multiple times. Comments from sites whose editors speak with us are included in the write-up. Once our write-ups are published and we learn we made a mistake, we correct it quickly and transparently. We also invite sites that are not happy with the write-up to submit a response on our website.

– If I politely decline to answer your questions, will it result in my site being slandered and blocked by NewsGuard, thereby causing grievous financial harm to my business, which supports myself, my wife and my three children?

We think the write-ups are stronger and more valuable when sites respond to our requests for comment. However, if a site chooses to not engage with us, that does not change our approach and our desire to be fair and accurate.

– What are your credentials as a ‘Staff Analyst?’ What background and professional experience do you have, and how does this qualify you to be evaluating and potentially publicly slandering my business?

Everyone who writes or edits our Nutrition Labels is identified on the write-up, and the byline links to a biography on the site. Biographies for all our staff are available here.

– Who is your supervisor and how my I personally contact them? Who is the CEO or President of NewsGuard and how may I personally contact them?

All of that information is explicitly detailed on the website, including all contact information.

– How is NewsGuard funded? What is the profit model you are using to engage in this kind of research, and if it is funded by outside parties or organizations, who are the primary sources sustaining your efforts here? Are you a non-profit, or are you able to make money by harassing and slandering small publications such as mine?

Information about our investors can be found on our website here. Our business model involves licensing our content to tech platforms and others. We do not charge the sites that we review. That would be an obvious conflict of interest.

– What are NewsGuard’s political biases and explicit and inexplicit motivations for conducting your work? What are the biases of its owners and leadership? How does NewsGuard intend to maintain objectivity when reviewing sites like mine? Who decides whether or not a bit of information is to be considered factual or not?

We are journalists and aspire to be as fair and open-minded as we can be. Our motivation is to help consumers make wiser decisions about the news and information that they consume. We have give the highest ratings and the lowest ratings to sites across the political spectrum.

– Of the thousands of articles we have posted on hundreds of different topics, why did you only note vaccine, 5G, cell phones, and chemtrails in your email to me? Are these issues somehow of particular concern to NewsGuard, and if so, what are NewsGuard’s official positions on these particular issues?

We think it is important to let consumers know about content that may be false or misleading, especially on matters related to public policy and human health. We don’t take positions.

– Should I happen to be at odds with your positions (which I am legally, ethically, and morally permitted to be), will this result in me being slandered and having my business grievously financially harmed by your organization?

As mentioned, we seek to be fair and accurate — which is one reason we try so hard to engage with sites before we publish. If we make a mistake, we correct it quickly and transparently.

– You asked me about headlines. Have you found any headlines on Waking Times that contain inaccurate information? Please let me know if you do, because the wording of your question implies that there is, and if there is, as editor of the site I certainly would like to know. That said, you might as well have just asked when the last time I beat my wife was. Ha… there’s some humor for you, if you’re allowed to laugh at your job, that is.

Here are some of the Waking Times headlines that we would like to ask you about:

http://archive.fo/oWAHO
http://archive.fo/tyg5U
http://archive.fo/OgSUL
http://archive.fo/TLsHx
http://archive.fo/aKLWZ
http://archive.fo/mNJKe

– In the past, it has been considered a crime to approach a business owner and strong arm them into complying with demands under threat of grievous financial or bodily harm. Is it legal for NewsGuard to publicly slander and cause grievous financial harm to my business should I choose to exercise my legal right to opt out of your friendly questionnaire?

Sorry, but I’m not sure what you are referring to. As a journalistic organization, we seek comment before we publish. Again, we will treat you just as fairly if you agree to be interviewed or don’t agree. But your answers will likely make our review more complete.

– Are you capable of ascertaining our editorial perspective by looking at and reading our content, or do you require explanation above and beyond what you see and read on the site?

We mostly base our assessments on what is on a site, but are happy to get further insight from the people behind the site.

– Will you please provide me with a detailed list of names, biographical information, and contact info of all the employees, management and ownership of NewsGuard?

Here again is the link to our staff list.

– A number of my colleagues and associates have informed me that your organization has treated them exceptionally unfairly and has slandered their organizations, causing them grievous financial harm. What recourse do I have should I experience the same treatment? Is there an appeals process to clear my good name should you ultimately decide to slander my business?

Again, I’m not sure what you are referring to in terms of “slander,” but as I mentioned, if any site is unhappy with our write-up, we are happy to publish their response on our website.

If you have any additional concerns, feel free to contact me.

Best regards,
Eric Effron
Editorial Director, NewsGuard
Follow me on Twitter: @EricEffron
[email protected]
212.332.6317
Download the desktop browser extension here.


Reply #2 by Dylan Charles, Editor of Waking Times

Hi Eric, I’m just now getting to this.

Again, thanks for such a polite reply. I’m an exceptionally kind and friendly person, and I’m sure that should you and I be sitting face to face with one another we’d have a spirited and intelligent discussion about all this. Honestly, though, I’m finding it difficult to muster such high virtue in our conversation here, as I have a very acute disdain for bullies and control freaks. And let’s be honest, your organization’s mission is to control what information people have access to. This is anathema to my worldview, plus it would be exceptionally naive of me to believe that your organization is truly objective and has no agenda. Especially considering today’s climate of partisanship and open corporate censorship.

Regarding the links you sent, I’m not sure what your concern is, other than you all seem to be very interested in the issues of chemtrails (which is now openly being referred to as ‘solar radiation management,’ ‘solar geoengineering,’ ‘atmospheric spraying,’ and ‘climate hacking,’ by mainstream news sources… https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2018/08/08/this-climate-change-hack-would-reflect-more-sunlight-not-such-a-bright-idea-study-says), 5G, vaccines, and alternative views on health and wellness.

Many sites like mine are being openly censored right now by social media platforms and other tech services explicitly for covering non-mainstream views on these very topics, so your mention of only these issues out of hundreds that we cover reveals that you do in fact have a bias.

Furthermore, one of the links you sent me (http://archive.fo/aKLWZ) is from an article that I had removed from our site years ago, although it lives on at archive.today. Not double checking this and sending me a link of something that doesn’t exist is exceptionally irresponsible of you, and the fact that you’re not actually taking the time to fact check your own email to me speaks volumes about your organization’s ability to fact check the entire internet. Have you ever even visited our actual site? I wonder.

But if you want to know more about these particular articles and the headlines, just read them. Our site is available to the public, which includes you. If you don’t agree with something or don’t like our perspective, then all you have to do is click on something else. It’s really that easy, so let’s not pretend like the world can’t survive without NewsGuard.

I will say, though, that I understand what you are attempting to do and while there certainly are sites on the net that deliberately publish lies and false information, it’s pretty obvious to even the most junior news censor and grade school imbecile that Waking Times is not in that category.

I must also say that I am philosophically at odds with your mission, and therefore cannot in good conscience participate in your efforts to assert yourselves as the most trustworthy, objective fact checkers on the planet. I just don’t think that the world needs your protection. Call me crazy. When I was a kid I used to ride a bike without a helmet, too. Go figure.

Really, my hunch is that you and I are different breeds. I believe in the power of people and the greatness of the individual, and I will forever advocate for freedom of thought and freedom of speech. You, on the other hand, seem to operate with the belief that people should be saved from thinking for themselves, and that somehow everyone else simply can’t live without having the opinions of NewsGuard injected in between themselves and something they want to look at online.

I mean, really, though, you’re just a bunch of dudes getting paid to do what you’re told. If your boss says to put a public warning on Waking Times because he doesn’t like the color of my hair, you, Eric, will do it, because you need the job and you like the money and benefits package you get for following orders.

And it’s not like St. Thomas Aquinas sits on your Board of Directors. You don’t have God’s wisdom in your back pocket. You don’t have some secret sauce that no one but NewsGuard can comprehend. Get over yourselves already.

As I see it, it’s a control freak thing, and while I’m sure you’re drawing a nice salary doing what you do, your efforts here amount to censorship, which is corrosive and destructive to free societies. I cannot and will not oblige.

The work I do is honest, of high integrity, it helps people who need our kind of help, and people the world over are free to take it or leave it. Unless, of course, your organization succeeds in placing your opinions of us in between us and our readers, which, I’m certain, is the most likely outcome of our conversation here.

I am highly educated, exceptionally intelligent, a very talented writer and editor, and also very well versed on my rights, which are fundamentally enumerated in the U.S. Constitution, namely in the Bill of Rights. I seek to illuminate perspectives on issues which are often under-reported on by mainstream news sources. I pursue ideas and viewpoints which resonate with my experiences and understanding of the world, and I openly acknowledge that most people out there don’t agree with me. And that is okay.

So until you actually merge with the government and form an actual Ministry of Truth, and then carry the full weight of law and state violence in your quest to police all content on the internet, I think I’ll pass on hoping to curry favor with you organization, no matter how polite you guys are.

This means that I’m okay with whatever it is that you want to say about us. Freedom is as freedom does, so have fun warning the world of the potential dangers of 5 articles on an independent media site containing almost 8500 articles.

Most likely, though, anything negative you say about us will result in stronger support from our audience and will help us maintain our image as an organization that isn’t interested in conforming to pressures and demands of corporate censors. I know that the readers whom appreciate our work will find us no matter what kind of warning label you put on us.

So, I guess you could say that my official position is that in my opinion the world just doesn’t need you guys or anyone else telling people what and what not to think. There are so many bigger problems you could be addressing with your resources.

So feel free to publish whatever you like about us, and please send me a link when you do.

And I’m 100% certain that you know what slander is, so I’ll pretend like you didn’t ask me that.

Have a sweet day.

Regards,
_Dylan Charles, Editor
www.WakingTimes.com


End Transmission…

Please share this far and wide, and let’s work together to maintain freedom of thought and freedom of speech!

Dylan Charles is the editor of Waking Times and co-host of Redesigning Reality, both dedicated to ideas of personal transformation, societal awakening, and planetary renewal. His personal journey is deeply inspired by shamanic plant medicines and the arts of Kung Fu, Qi Gong and Yoga. After seven years of living in Costa Rica, he now lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains, where he practices Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and enjoys spending time with family. He has written hundreds of articles, reaching and inspiring millions of people around the world.

This article (NewsGuard is ‘Reviewing’ Every Indy Media Site on the Web – READ Their Email Exchange with Waking Times) was originally created and published by Waking Times and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Dylan Charles and WakingTimes.com. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this copyright statement.

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