Partners launch outline for transparency benchmark

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A new set of trust and transparency standards are part of a media initiative to combat disinformation online. The Journalism Trust Initiative has been launched by Reporters Without Borders with partners Agence France Presse, the European Broadcasting Union and the Global Editors Network.

The initiative works via an agreed set of trust and transparency standards, to be developed and implemented by means of a Workshop Agreement of the European Centre of Standardization (CEN) which is now open for participation by interested stakeholders such as media outlets, professional associations and unions, self-regulatory entities like press councils and regulatory bodies, as well as digital platforms, advertisers and consumer interest representatives.

The Journalism Trust Initiative was unveiled at a press conference by RSF's secretary general Christophe Deloire, AFP global news director Michèle Léridon, EBU director general Noel Curran and GEN president Peter Bale (who participated by video).

"In the new public arena system, in which false information circulate faster than real news, the defence of journalism requires reversing this trend by giving a real advantage to all those who reliably produce news and information, whatever their status," Deloire said.

Resulting standards are expected to reflect transparency of media ownership and sources of revenues, as well as journalistic methods and the compliance with ethical norms and independence. They are intended to become a voluntary, leading benchmark of media self-regulation and good practices for all those who produce journalistic content, ranging from individual bloggers to international media groups.

Deloire says the self-regulatory mechanism is based on a global analysis of the news and information domain, "one that makes it possible to combine ethical with economic concerns.

"We are convinced that our initiative will help to foster integrity in the public debate while guaranteeing the broadest pluralism and independence."

Quality and independence of journalism may earn preferential distribution and treatment by search engine and social media algorithms.

Deloire also says media outlets' "white-listing" may help decisions on where to channel spending, and the mechanism "could also serve as a transparent instrument for the allocation of public funding for the media, as a tool for self-regulatory bodies, such as press councils, and regulatory authorities, as well as the basis of a trusted media label".

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