Universal News Identifier

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Universal News Identifier is a new initiative to help publishers, journalists and other news organizations identify their work as it’s distributed across all digital channels.

The UNID initiative proposes an open technical spec for creating unique and verifiable content IDs, as well as a fully federated system for documenting the metadata and syndication history of content across the web.

  • Interoperable with existing media taxonomies
  • Plug-and-play with major content management systems
  • Nil or nominal drag on technical performance
  • Increases public trust through greater transparency
  • Entirely opt-in

Formulation

The UNID initiative specifies a formulation based on certain uniquely identifying attributes of an article at the time of its publication.

Specifically, each is the SHA256 hash of the colon-delimited concatenation of article url, title and the outlet's name:

SHA256(<URL>:<Title>:<Outlet Name>)

The final result is a 64-character alphanumeric string that is unique to each article. UNIDs are then used to collect, store and access production data from service providers, including Pressland's news-trust indices.


Trust and Federation

The UNID initiative is the first step to creating a system of open data that lends auditability and trust to the protocol. Anybody can host a UNID node. All UNID nodes registered with the network maintain a shared record of UNID generation, as well as a record of the state of metadata at the time of generation. This allows for UNIDs to be verified into the future, even if content is revised or moved.

For more information, including opportunities to join this initiative, sign up for the mailing list, below.