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OwlFactor News Sources:

Quality vs. Bias

When did OwlFractor launch and why?

OwlFactor launched in 2016. Ajoy and Arjun, the two founders, found that public perception of the news was dropping fast as accusations of fake news and news bias became rampant. Being long-time news readers and technologists they thought they could help by changing how people evaluated news quality and surfacing the best news that they’ve always sought out themselves.

What does OwlFactor do? What are its main goals? Main projects?

OwlFactor instantly rates the quality of individual news articles so people can easily find the highest quality news on any news story. OwlFactor makes it easy for people to consistently read high quality news from across the political spectrum so that they can find common ground with others on issues they care about.

OwlFactor has two main product, both of which are free and available at a Chrome browser extension and an app for Apple phones.

What makes OwlFactor stand out? What would you say is the most unique thing about OwlFactor?

OwlFactor’s has a patent-pending algorithm to rate news quality instantly. The software rates quality in a transparent manner based on signals people intuitively associate with high quality news: deep and well researched sources, expertise of authors in the subject matter, approval of readers who know the subject matter well.

What are recent projects or new resources that OwlFactor would like to share with other NAMLE members?

OwlFactor helps people figure out the quality of news they are reading and suggests better news from across the political spectrum.

OwlFactor scores individual articles for quality based on several factors including:

  1. How extensive and diverse its sources are.
  2. How experienced the author is in the topic.
  3. How popular the article is with readers who have read the most on that topic.

The Knight Foundation published researchthat news ratings can positively impact news reading behavior. We aim to leverage our ratings to help the public understand how to assess news quality and trust the news again.

Anyone can see OwlFactor ratings on news they read via a free Chrome extension or mobile app, both available at

The news quality vs. bias chart below was built based on scores from 180,000 articles in May 2018. The data highlights several smaller publications, often focused on specific topics, that write some of the best researched news. Reading a mix of such sources across the political spectrum will help people understand the broader story on complex issues reported in the news.

CivikOwl quality vs. bias chart - July 2018 Final

What are the connections between your work and media literacy?

The International Federation of Library Associations has guidelines for how to spot fake news and general media literacy. Their recommendations are core to how we developed our algorithm and encouraged us to be transparent in how our product works so that people can improve their media literacy skills even without tools to help.

Why is media literacy important to you?

Media literacy is crucial for citizens to be properly informed on issues they care about and to vote accordingly for candidates who they feel are best positioned to solve these issues. This is fundamental to a healthy democracy and, speaking as a father of two young children, crucial for leaving a better world for the next generation.

Anything else about want our readers to know about OwlFactor, your mission, your staff?

Our business model is not advertising based but rather an optional single subscription to access all paywalled news sites. We believe this will sustainably increase revenues for the best news outlets and encourage higher quality reporting.

Finally, the company is in its early days with its product development so feedback is really appreciated on what works and what improvements you’d like to see. Please email arjunm@civikowl.comwith any suggestions or criticism.

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