Maurice Levy
Maurice Levy

Publicis Groupe leads a $6M investor group financing NewsGuard, a venture announced today by media entrepreneur Steve Brill and former Wall Street Journal publisher Gordon Crovitz, to combat “fake news.”

They plan to hire dozens of journalists to review 7,500 of the most-accessed and shared websites, and give each a green (trusted source), yellow (proceed with caution) or red (fake news) reliability rating. Those English language sites account for 98 percent of the articles read and shared in the US.

Sites also will receive “nutrition label” write-ups containing info about who owns/edits the site, what it covers and notable awards/mistakes.

The ratings and nutrition labels will be licensed to social media platforms and online search companies.

A NewsGuard “swat team” will be on alert 24/7 to act on suddenly trending stories from an unrated source or a site just launched to promote a fictitious story.

Brill, founder of Court TV, The American Lawyer and Brill’s Content, said NewsGuard’s use of experienced journalists operating in an accountable fashion “will apply basic common sense to a growing scourge that clearly cannot be solved by algorithms.”

Maurice Levy, Publicis Group chairman, called NewsGuard a concrete and answerable answer to the concerns of clients.

“Advertisers care about the quality and credibility of the brands they support, and we are delighted to be the lead investor in NewsGuard as a key part of the solution to the crisis of fake news,” he said in a statement.

Levy noted that advertisers are concerned about brand safety and don’t want to finance or appear alongside fake news.

He said NewsGuard will publish and license "white lists" of news sites that clients can use to support legitimate publishers while protecting their brand reputations.

Brill and Crovitz expect to launch NewsGuard ahead of the November mid-term elections.