The European Committee for Standardization (CEN) has officially issued the Standard document, that was developed by the ‘Journalism Trust Initiative’ (JTI) over the last two years. After its launch by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) with partners Agence France Presse (AFP), the EBU and the Global Editors Network (GEN), over 120 experts and institutions participated in the drafting stage of JTI.
The Standard resulting from the ‘Journalism Trust Initiative’ is now available to serve as an instrument to promote transparency and accountability of news media, but also to incentivize and reward compliance with professional norms.
“Never was the need for free, independent and trusted media more vital than in current political and social circumstances, where we are seeing the proliferation of disinformation and a disconcerting increase in attempts to shut down independent representation. This is why the EBU has been an enthusiastic and dedicated partner in this much-needed project, that promotes clear standards of accuracy, impartiality and trust. These will always be central to democratic societies - and to the values of strong public service media.” – Noel Curran, Director-General, EBU.
As a benchmark for self-assessment and voluntary disclosure of media outlets, the JTI Standard features 18 clauses that range from ownership and sources of revenue to the editorial process, including topics like correction policies, labelling of opinion or sponsored content, and ensuring accuracy. Every newspaper, TV channel or radio station, website or blog can use it as a checklist for a thorough, internal diagnosis of its manufacturing chain and for optimizing it, if needed.
Journalism worthy of its name must be clearly distinguishable, by humans and by algorithms. That’s why JTI has translated mostly existing professional norms into machine-readable code. At the production level of journalism, these commonly agreed criteria of quality and independence can drive transparency and get verified to reinstate trust. To that end, JTI provides indicators for media outlets to self-assess and comply with – and for citizens, advertisers and regulators to recognize and reward it. It does not, however, allow for the rating of individual pieces of content as such a mechanism might be misused to curtail the freedom of speech.
Like any other standard, JTI is driven by demand. Algorithmically driven indexing, ranking and distribution of news, particularly by social media platforms and other tech companies, is under growing scrutiny. Therefore, externalizing this process and source, govern and further develop the underlying criteria independently, is becoming a viable option that JTI can deliver. Both Facebook and Google had joined the group of stakeholders early on and contributed to its work, particularly with a view on the machine-readability of this Standard document. By providing an accepted industry standard for the production of trustworthy journalism the JTI presents a practical tool for society to combat the dangers of misinformation and ‘fake’ news.
“The media landscape is evolving at an unprecedented rate, which creates new opportunities, but also big changes in how we deliver news. As data driven technologies have greater impact on creating and surfacing our journalistic output, Public service journalists and organizations need therefore tools that can ensure that quality Public Service content is clearly identifiable, prominent and discoverable. The JTI Standard tool can help to achieve that and will provide strong guidance in ensuring continued adherence to the highest professional standards and journalistic ethics.” – Justyna Kurczabinska, Senior Manager, News Exchange and News Strategy, EBU.