Trust on All Sides – a New Media Culture

This week we speak to Aidan White from the Ethical Journalism Network on how, in a world of increasingly unreliable online sources, traditional media can engage audiences and build trust.

How do traditional media sources compete in a world where information is available to all, audiences are actively engaged in the story, commenting as the news unfolds and making their own observations?  As online views inevitably include the ridiculous and the abusive alongside the well informed, well considered and thought-through there is, according to Aidan White, a clear role for traditional media to take the lead and be responsible for the conversation by actively educating and informing audiences.

“In my view it is critical that media organisations properly engage as a practical reality rather than an air of intent.  While most do not have the capacity to operate an on-going moderation system they can and should actively post-moderate.  Abusive and unacceptable comments must, at the very least, be deleted but media organisations need to go much further to engender trust, by operating a system of feedback that aims to encourage and positively influence and educate people so that the debate is continually advanced and the level of discourse is measured and calm.  

“We are moving into an era where regulators must not only deal with complaints but their role is also to assist their members to adhere to high standards of quality journalism.  They need to do so not just by codifying a set of rules but by giving their members practical guidelines based on real life situations.

“As a new independent regulator, IMPRESS can provide industry-wide standards of ethical journalism but just as important it can support a culture which is sufficiently sensitive to these principles to make real change possible.

“IMPRESS has an important role to play in this new era. Some of the small but growing media organisations which make up the hyperlocal sector, and who often rely on freelancers, do not necessarily have the capacity to be able to function under this sort of commitment. In order to build trust with their readers they must ask themselves the question – how do we maintain and enhance our standards of journalism and how do we put in place practical mechanisms to follow when dealing with dilemmas such as the difficulty of reporting where freedom of speech versus privacy is at stake?