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EBU supports public launch of Journalism Trust Initiative and the push for greater media transparency

18 May 2021
EBU supports public launch of Journalism Trust Initiative and the push for greater media transparency

The EBU has underlined its commitment to the Journalism Trust Initiative (JTI), with the launch of the JTI game-changing transparency tool, designed to promote trustworthy journalism.

The online tool will enable media organizations to check, disclose and promote their transparency and the reliability of their editorial processes and identify trustworthy outlets. It promises to promote trustworthy journalism and news sources and radically transform steps in tackling disinformation. 

The EBU has supported the JTI from the beginning by participating as a professional organization in the standard-setting phase, between April 2018 and November 2019. A number of EBU Members participated in the process as the challenges being faced today with disinformation and competition in information distribution are global – which means a global industry position on the creation of robust regulations and standards is urgently required.

Noel Curran, Director General, EBU, said “Public trust in news is vital, yet the rise of harmful disinformation means it’s in danger of being permanently undermined. The EBU has been a strong supporter of the JTI from the start, with several of our Members involved in the standard-setting process to promote accuracy and signal to audiences those news sources that they can rely on. That these standards are now being made available to media organizations worldwide will create a strong counter-balance in a world overwhelmed with fake news.”

At the core of the JTI is the self-assessment of media outlets to diagnose, optimize and promote the accuracy of their journalism, with the aim of building a healthier news ecosystem, identifying and rewarding reliable reporting and restoring audiences’ confidence in journalism at large.

The JTI is built on a list of criteria that was developed by Reporters Without Borders in collaboration with over 130 organizations and individuals representing the media industry, academia, regulatory and self-regulatory bodies, tech companies and the media development sector. It was originally published by the European Committee for Standardization and is now available as an interactive web application online. 

The JTI offer consists of three-stages; first the media outlet is invited to complete a self-assessment via the JTI online app, which involves an internal check of conformity with JTI Standard. Next, the results of this self-assessment may be voluntarily disclosed to the public and published by the media outlet as a Transparency Report. The final stage of the process is an external audit involving an independent evaluation by a licensed Certification Body. The media outlet will be certified and awarded a JTI Mark following the successful completion of all three stages.

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 can not only remedy users’ concerns, but also drive reach and revenues of news media. The JTI now provides them with a one-of-its-kind online tool to achieve this and, in addition, to get independently audited based on their self-assessment to obtain a ‘JTI Mark’ – the symbol of conformity with the JTI Standard.

Empowering news organizations, reassuring audiences                                        

Fighting disinformation and detoxing the information space requires audiences, but also businesses, such as marketers and distributors, to be able to differentiate between high-quality, reputable sources and questionable information. The JTI delivers this distinction in a transparent, normative and machine-readable way, so that users can immediately tell whether an outlet is trustworthy. For media outlets, this represents an opportunity to demonstrate professional leadership and an opportunity to capitalize on it.

Today's launch of the JTI web application was preceded by a pilot phase in which a diverse range of nearly 50 media outlets have participated to thoroughly test the instrument, including CBC-RadioCanada, France Télévisions, SRG-SWI swissinfo, NRK, the Schibsted Group, Tiempo Argentino, DER SPIEGEL, Colorado Public Radio, Dnevnik in Bulgaria and The Wire in India. EBU Members held a virtual webinar on 19 April to share their experiences from the pilot phase. 

Every media outlet can join by visiting the JTI online tool, which is initially available in English, French, German and Spanish, and 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 JTI delivers a large-scale, inter-disciplinary move towards improving professionalism and transparency in our common information and communication space.

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Jo Waters

Head of Content Communications

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