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New trust tool will help credible news providers

2021-05-19. A new web-based transparency tool to help promote media integrity and reward trustworthy news sources has been launched by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). Through the Journalism Trust Initiative (JTI), news organisations can check, disclose and promote compliance of their editorial processes with best practices.

by WAN-IFRA Staff executivenews@wan-ifra.org | May 19, 2021

JTI offers publishers three options to engage with their credibility tool – ranging from self-assessment to a full-on, audited certification mark. At its simplest, the free online self-assessment process allows any media organisation to check their newsroom processes and policies against a JTI standard. The criteria for this were developed in conjunction with 130 organisations and individuals representing the media industry, academia, regulatory and self-regulatory bodies, tech companies and the media development sector.

The deeper engagement options are for those who want to share their results and get a JTI Transparency Report, or for those publishers who want an external, independent audit and certification mark from JTI.

“In the current information chaos, falsehoods, propaganda and hate speech have a competitive advantage over journalism”, said Christophe Deloire, Secretary General of Reporters Without Borders. “This has negative consequences for both the public, as it limits its capacity to make fact-based decisions, and for the sustainability of journalism. If we want to get out of this downward spiral, we have to reverse the logic by incentivizing journalism through a trusted third-party mechanism. JTI is a game-changing initiative as it turns compliance with professional norms into a tangible asset, and eventually a contribution to the sustainability of journalism.”

The antidote to disinformation

The development of the JTI is a direct response to the viral spread of disinformation in recent years. According to the Edelman Trust Barometer 2020, as many as 74% of internet users say they are concerned about disinformation on social media, while 64% turn to the news media for reliable information. As a result, demonstrating the trustworthiness of their work cannot only remedy users’ concerns but also drive reach and revenues of news media.

WAN-IFRA CEO Vincent Peyrègne welcomed the launch of the online tool. “The trust problem facing journalism and media organisations is so big that any initiative that flags proper newsroom processes and helps to put a distance between professional newsrooms and purveyors of junk news is welcomed. Whether news organisations elect a light option of self-assessment of editorial processes, using the JTI web app, or opt for full audited certification, the move to explicit standards will help identify newsrooms with trustworthy processes.”

The JTI web application was preceded by a pilot phase in which a diverse range of nearly 50 media outlets tested the instrument, including the Schibsted Group, Tiempo Argentino, DER SPIEGEL and The Wire in India.
You can use the JTI online tool, which is initially available in English, French and Spanish, by creating a profile for self-assessment.

Interested professionals in the media industries can learn more about the three-stage process of the JTI by attending a webinar on 7 June 2021. It will offer an introduction to the tool and feature a peer-to-peer panel comprised of representatives from media outlets that were involved in the pilot phase, sharing their first-hand experiences of the initiative.

Co-funded by the European Commission and Craig Newmark Philanthropies, the Journalism Trust Initiative delivers a large-scale, inter-disciplinary move towards improving professionalism and transparency in our common information and communication space.

Olaf Steenfadt, Project Director of the Journalism Trust Initiative (JTI), Germany, will be a speaker at WAN-IFRA’s Digital Media Africa conference on 6 July.

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