PEN America and the Trust Project have partnered to create a first-of-its-kind digital tool that tracks the transparency of over 50 leading national and regional media outlets by surfacing the policies, practices, and people behind the news.
The Newsroom Transparency Tracker encourages media outlets to be accountable to the public and empowers the public to make informed choices about the news outlets they watch, listen to, and read.
We have developed the Newsroom Transparency Tracker to serve as:
- A media literacy tool that empowers the public to hone in on reliable sources of news and defend themselves from fraudulent news and misinformation
- An accountability tool that encourages news outlets to be more responsive to the interests of the public
- An educational and research tool that helps teachers, librarians, media industry professionals, and academics assess, and teach the standards and practices behind, news reporting
PEN America’s commitment to media transparency is rooted in our research examining the harmful impact of the proliferation of fraudulent news on civic life in the United States. In 2017, PEN America published the report Faking News: Fraudulent News and the Fight for Truth, which found that the spread of fraudulent news has been magnified by declining trust in traditional (“mainstream”) news media. One of the report’s key recommendations for news outlets was the importance of transparency, particularly regarding the ethics that underpin reporting and editing, fact-checking, corrections, and distinguishing news from commentary and opinion.
Using four of the Trust Project’s “Trust Indicators,” the Tracker highlights the information that each featured media outlet publicly reveals about its ethics codes and related commitments, how it does its work, and the expertise of its journalists. The Trust Indicators—developed collaboratively by over 100 senior news executives within the Trust Project network—are transparency standards rooted in core journalistic values and based on in-depth research capturing what the public values and trusts in news. The four Trust Indicators used in the Tracker are: Best Practices, Journalist Expertise, Type of Work, and Diverse Voices.
PEN America and the Trust Project are grateful to Craig Newmark Philanthropies for making the Newsroom Transparency Tracker possible.
The Trust Project would also like to acknowledge the support of Google, Facebook, the Democracy Fund, and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.