The huge potentiality offered to news media by social media and social networks have already been widely discussed.
But does the overwhelming tide of information have any consequences on the credibility of online news?
Writing for (y)EU, the collective blog of the Web-team of the European Parliament, published an article addressing the issue. The article cited Edelman's media guru Steve Rubel who said that the word recognized as the Oxford Word of the Year 2009 - which was "unfriend" - marked the passage from the "democratization" of the internet to the "accreditation" era.
People don't know how to survive in the jungle of information online and they are turning to experts and specialists to guide them, says the article. If in 2006 the main source of trust was "people like me, my peer", in 2010 academic, experts, CEOS, NGOs and government representatives gained positions.
The article goes on noting that this is far form being the end of social media, of course, but that it means that to be credible and influential and to stand out from the wave it's necessary to build a sort of "digital authority".
Rubel suggests five ingredients for gaining this digital authority: elevate the experts by only letting the most credible voices talk; curate the content, contextualizing and structuring it; use visualizations and info-graphics; put stuff where people can find it; and ask and answer, differentiating content to meet with readers' interests.
Beside assessments from experts, the community could also contribute to evaluating online credibility.
On Wavu, the platform for "meta-journalism" of the Italian foundation Ahref, Luca dello Iacovo wrote about how the English version of Wikipedia asks users to rate pages, assessing the quality of content. Users are asked to rate how trustworthy, objective, complete and well-written the page is. They are also asked to indicate whether they are experts on the issue or not.
This is a further step to incentivise the improvement of quality standards through collaborative participation of the users.
Last year the "Report an Error Alliance", an alliance of news organizations that makes accountability its primary aim, created the Report an Error button, giving the authors a feedback about the accuracy of the articles.
Credibility and authoritativeness the could be asses both from on high - by experts - as well as from below - from users.
The citizen journalism image agency Citizenside, for example, uses a point-based game system where users get points based on how many activities they do. This points-system creates a ranking of reliability as the more you are engaged in the community, the higher is your level and the more is trustworthy your contribution.