By Don Irvine
In an effort to combat the proliferation of fake news, news websites including Facebook and Google have agreed to abide by a set of “trust indicators” as set forth by The Trust Project that they hope will restore their credibility as news providers.
The eight core indicators are:
- Best Practices: What Are Your Standards? Who funds the news outlet? What is the outlet’s mission? Plus commitments to ethics, diverse voices, accuracy, making corrections, and other standards.
- Author Expertise: Who Reported This? Details about the journalist who wrote the story, including expertise and other stories they have worked on.
- Type of Work: What Is This? Labels to distinguish opinion, analysis, and advertiser (or sponsored) content from news reports.
- Citations and References: For investigative or in-depth stories, greater access to the sources behind the facts and assertions.
- Methods: Also for in-depth stories, information about why reporters chose to pursue a story and how they went about the process.
- Locally Sourced? Lets people know when the story has local origin or expertise.
- Diverse Voices: A newsroom’s efforts to bring in diverse perspectives.
- Actionable Feedback: A newsroom’s efforts to engage the public’s help in setting coverage priorities, contributing to the reporting process, ensuring accuracy, and other areas.
In today’s digitized and socially networked world, it’s harder than ever to tell what’s accurate reporting, advertising, or even misinformation (Lehrman said in a statement on the indicators). An increasingly skeptical public wants to know the expertise, enterprise, and ethics behind a news story. The Trust Indicators put tools into people’s hands, giving them the means to assess whether news comes from a credible source they can depend on.
Lehrman said it will be up to the readers to determine the accuracy of a particular story, but the indicators will provide publishers with a standardized way to communicate their editorial policies and practices to them.
The Washington Post, the Economist, the Globe and Mail, and Independent Journal Review are among the first companies that will implement the indicators this month with others in the 75-member consortium expected to follow suit in the next six months.
Facebook, Twitter, and Google, which have also been plagued by fake news, say they support the indicators and plan to implement them based on what they feel will be most beneficial to their audiences.