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John McManus, Ph.D.
San Jose, CA

117B Dwight Bentel Hall
School of Journalism and Mass Communications at San Jose State University
San Jose, CA 95192-0055
Work: 408-924-3256
Fax: 408-924-3229

rates print and broadcast news in SF Bay area

By MGP, May 21, 2009

Grade the News started in 2000 with the goal of rating the news in San Francisco. It ended in 2007 when funding tapered off. During that reign it received various grants (from the Gerbode Foundation, Knight Foundation, and Ford Foundation), and had several homes, starting in a public television station in San Jose, relocating to Standford University, and then returning to San Jose, ending up at San Jose State College.

Recently, John McManus has taken the lessons learned from this news literacy project and put them into a multimedia book, writing:

As director of GradetheNews.org, I've been evaluating news bias and quality since 2000. I'd like to share what I've learned in a new digital textbook called Detecting Bull: How to Identify Bias and Junk Journalism in Print, Broadcast and on the Wild Web. It's a multi-media book on a DVD replete with video and audio clips providing examples designed to help student-citizens separate the reliable from the rest in what NPR's Brooke Gladstone calls the era of "buyer beware" journalism.

The book's website, www.detectingbull.com, includes a bio on McManus and excerpts.

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From GradeTheNews.org's mission page:

One solution -- change marketplace demand

If one of the markets shaping the news is for readers and viewers, the public has a chance to influence the quality of the news it receives. If newspapers and TV stations in the Bay Area were to gain or lose audience because local residents could readily distinguish quality and insist on it, there would be a financial incentive to upgrade the news.

Our job is to acquaint Bay Area citizens with what they should be able to expect from the news and alert them to differences in quality that may be difficult to evaluate if they don't have the time to really study the news.

We have no political ax to grind, although we do have a bias -- that the primary purpose of journalism is to maximize public understanding of current issues and events, not maximize return to owners.

On Feb. 15, 2006, the Palo Alto Weekly reported in an interview with John McManus that GradeTheNews was seeking additional foundation or donor support but would otherwise run out of funds and go dormant. (READ STORY)

See John McManus's commentary "This Wolf Call Is Real."

See also: Grade the News's analysis of the power shift toward advertisers when newspapers go to the free distribution model, "At free dailies, advertisers sometimes call the shots", by Michael Stoll