As more readers search for news they can trust, PEN America and the Trust Project have released a new digital tool called the Newsroom Transparency Tracker to help readers track policies, practices and people behind the news of more than 50 leading national and regional media outlets.
Last year, PEN America became interested with working with the Trust Project after they published a report titled "Faking News: Fraudulent News and the Fight for the Truth." According to Viktorya Vilk, manager of special projects for Free Expression Programs at PEN America, one of the report's big recommendations to media outlets was to become more transparent. This led the team at PEN America to question which outlets were transparent, but when they realized there wasn't any kind of tool available that could easily tell them, they decided to create one themselves.
Vilk explained they were in the process of deciding what kind of standards or "trust indicators" they would use when they came across the Trust Project, who had already developed their own set of indicators.
Even though the Trust Project has eight indicators, the Newsroom Transparency Tracker only utilizes four: best practices (ethics, policies, etc.), journalist expertise, type of work (labels to distinguish the type of content) and commitment to diverse voices.
When visitors enter the website (newsroomtransparencytracker.com), they can see the features. A blue circle means news outlets fully provided information for attribute, a partial circle means the information is partially provided, and a blank or white circle indicates that the information is not provided.
When selecting which news outlets to profile, Vilk said they wanted companies that...