PRESS RELEASE published on 03 Jul 2019 • Department / Unit Eurovision News MediaInitiative or Policy Media Freedom & Pluralism

EBU, RSF and partners launch public consultation on the Journalism Trust Initiative

The EBU and its partners Reporters without Borders (RSF), Agence France Presse (AFP) and the Global Editors Network (GEN) are pleased to announce the launch of an official public consultation around the Journalism Trust Initiative (JTI). The JTI’s aim is to create a series of standards to identify trustworthy journalism.

Distinguishing itself from other projects around trust indicators, the JTI focuses on the process – or the ‘manufacturing’ level of journalism – only, not on single pieces of content. For the first time in this domain it rewards compliance with already existing principles of journalism.

Media outlets would be conforming with standards as an entity, for example by providing transparency of ownership, sources of revenue and proof of a range of professional safeguards.

Since May 2018, more than 120 experts, representing global, national and local media outlets, consumer associations, tech companies, regulators and NGOs have been working on developing professional standards in a series of three workshops guided by the European Committee of Standardization (CEN).

In early June, the registered participants adopted a standards document that defines indicators for trustworthy journalism.

Transparency, Professionalism and Ethical Conduct

The CEN Workshop Agreement is available for download on the website of the European Committee for Standardization (CEN).

It includes a list of criteria on transparency, professionalism and ethical conduct that JTI stakeholders considered essential best practices for media outlets to be trusted.

In addition, the document provides a questionnaire translating the standards clauses into a checklist, which is machine-readable in order to inform the algorithmic distribution of news.

The public consultation is a critical feature of any standard setting procedure and from now on until October, the partners in the Journalism Trust Initiative are inviting feedback on their proposal.

The general public as well as professional communities are invited to provide opinions and specific proposals for amendments for each of the 16 clauses, numerous sub-clauses and a checklist via a form on the CEN website and a dedicated e-mail address jti@rsf.org.

In addition, an interactive online-tool will be developed. The public consultation is intended to widen the range of participation in and, eventually, enhance the legitimacy of the Journalism Trust Initiative.

Following CEN guidelines, all comments received will be evaluated by the JTI drafting committees and then fed into a final review of the Workshop Agreement and its release towards the end of the year.

“Following many months of work the EBU welcomes the chance for stakeholders to offer their feedback on the standards developed by our broad coalition of industry partners and EBU Members. We are all dedicated to creating an environment where media organizations that are committed to producing quality trusted journalism are valued and visible, said EBU DG Noel Curran.

"Protecting this journalism, which derives from the strong public service media principles of Accuracy, Independence, Impartiality, Fairness, Transparency and Accountability is at the very heart of this project. Now is the time to see how these standards can operate on a practical level, so this initiative can have a real impact, helping the industry and audiences alike to identify quality journalism amid the disinformation.”

When final agreement has been reached, the JTI Standard will be made available to all types of media outlets for self-assessment with an additional possibility of optional auditing of conformity with the standards. A formal certification process to achieve an industry standard for trustworthy journalism could then follow.

The datasets resulting from the assessment should better inform the decision making of news distributors and consumers, as well as advertisers, and thus reward quality journalism.

The JTI was designed to provide a previously missing instrument to facilitate this.This is now provided it in a fully inclusive and self-regulatory way – sourced by journalists for journalists, but with a wider alliance of other stakeholders supporting it.

How we drafted the Standards

The drafting committees tasked with editing the text consisted of journalists and media practitioners to secure the self-regulatory nature of JTI.

An additional so-called Technical Task-force advised on its algorithmic interoperability.

Other groups of participants, like media development organizations, regulators and tech companies have contributed their demands and views on how the JTI instrument might be applied further on. The World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) has endorsed the project and followed its progress continuously.