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Share your best practices for transparency and credibility in journalism

The level of scrutiny of journalism from the public and outside entities is greater than ever before, and this requires news organizations to think of new ways to build trust, make their work stand out, and open the door to greater interaction with the audience. New digital platforms offer a wealth of options to ensure transparency and credibility.

The question, as always, is what best practices should you apply, and what innovative things are newsrooms doing?

With that in mind. I’m excited to share that I am working with the American Press Institute to research and publish a free Strategy Study that will capture best practices and offer actionable guidance for newsrooms related to corrections, transparency and credibility in the digital age.

In the spirit of transparency and collaboration, I want to ask for your help and participation. Below is a list of the main areas of focus for this study. If you have examples, experiences, advice or other useful information to share in one or several of these areas, I want to hear from you. Drop me an email with your thoughts and hopefully we can talk more. You can also leave a comment below, or tweet me @craigsilverman.

At the same time, if you know of people and newsrooms doing interesting and innovative work in these areas, I want to hear about them. Please share the details and I will follow up.

You can expect to see the final study published later this summer.

Areas of Focus

Showing your work

  • Incorporating source materials into reporting.
  • Sharing information while in the process of reporting.
  • Showing changes/edits to content.

Transparent collaboration with the audience

  • Crediting readers for spotting errors or offering new information.
  • Innovative correction/error reporting tools and workflows.
  • New ways of doing letters, soliciting and incorporating comments, responding to criticism.

Curation and attribution

  • Adding value to the content.
  • Crediting others.
  • Using/citing social media content in an ethical way.

Disclosures and statements of values

  • What to disclose.
  • New ways to display disclosures.

Doing digital corrections

  • Creating a corrections workflow.
  • Writing effective corrections.
  • Spreading corrections on social media.
  • JHamer

    Craig — I applaud this effort by you and API to promote best practices related to corrections, transparency and credibility. Your Areas of Focus also are quite laudable. As you know, the Washington News Council has been encouraging these kinds of best practices for 15 years now. Any fair-minded person who has followed our work or reviews it at http://www.wanewscouncil.org must agree. However, many journalists have resisted the concepts of true transparency, genuine accountability and full openness with the public they claim to represent. They espouse those principles but want to completely control the process and outcome — a privilege they certainly wouldn’t ever grant to anyone they cover. Our News Council complaint and hearing system may not have been perfect, but it provided an opportunity for those damaged by inaccurate, unfair or biased stories to make their case in public and engage in an open dialogue about journalism ethics. Isn’t that a good route to “collaboration with the audience,” “responding to criticism,” “disclosures and statements of values,” as you and API are exploring in this new project? We even webcast our last hearing and invited viewers worldwide to comment and vote online. That’s real engagement and innovation, precisely what many journalists are supposedly inviting today. Although we’re closing the WNC’s doors on May 31 and will cease our complaint/hearing process, our TAO of Journalism project will continue. See http://www.taoofjournalism.org to see how it works. It’s no panacea, but if journalists want to rebuild credibility and trust with their audiences, they should just TAO it! Keep up the good work. We will too.

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The best practices for innovation within news organizations

This Strategy Study presents examples and insights about journalism innovation, offering actionable advice and methods to move your journalism and business forward.