CNS First Hundred Days Watch represents a rare chance to judge the competitive coverage of the three most watched newscasts: ABC, CBS, and NBC. The Trump administration promised to shake up the establishment and change the rules that journalists have taken for granted. How effectively they cover the new administration significantly impacts how well informed citizens will be.

Is one program more credible than another? Is one more thorough than another? Does one present the information more clearly? Because they air at the same time, it’s hard for the average viewer to make comparisons. CNS First Hundred Days Watch will do just that.

More people get their news from television than from all other sources combined. It’s one thing to read a quotation. It quite another to see the president’s face and hear the tone of his voice.

About four-in-ten Americans often get news online

The evening newscasts on ABC, CBS, and NBC together they have more viewers than any other regularly scheduled program. What those programs decide is important (and what isn’t) sets much of the agenda.

The three evening newscasts’ competition for viewers is cutthroat. A rating point is worth tens of millions of dollars. They commit their best people and big bucks into coverage of a new administration.

Eight students from the University of Maryland’s Phillip Merrill College of Journalism will monitor these three programs every weekday night through the first hundred days of the Donald Trump’s presidency. Their job is to flag significant differences in coverage judged by classic journalistic standards.

We have assembled a panel of some of the most experienced journalists in the country. The students will turn to them for expert evaluation of what constitutes best journalistic practice. They will post their comments along with video of the stories at issue.

There is good journalism and better journalism. This is a chance for people to judge for themselves.