Latest Initiative By The Knight Foundation Aims To Address Misinformation And Improve Trust in Journalism

Fabricated false disinformation technology on TV and newspaper.

There is an increasing demand to improve the state of affairs for how news is disseminated and verified. The Knight Foundation recently announced the Trust, Media, and Democracy initiative as part of a long-term solution to combat fake news and promote greater trust in the news.

The new project revealed includes $2.5 million in new support to seven institutions or projects that will focus on improving the trust in journalism. In addition, the other intent of the coalition is to build stronger connections and rapport between journalists and their audiences.

The non-partisan commission will be made up of a diverse panel of thinkers from different professional backgrounds and will be in charge of supposedly creating more informed and engaged communities.

Since the United States (U.S) presidential election in 2016, the wave of false news reports and misinformation campaigns have multiplied. This is the reason why the initiative will try to identify the causes for the erosion of trust for democratic institutions like the press.

“Quality journalism is essential to a healthy democracy. Our nation was founded on the principles of free debate and dissent as enshrined in the First Amendment, of which the press plays an essential part. Technology has fundamentally changed the way we communicate, craft and share news and information,” said Vice President for Journalism at the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Jennifer Preston.

She went on to explain that for journalism organizations to remain relevant, they have to keep up with the new community of information needs in a competitive news environment amid shrinking budgets and growing demands for innovation in the news.

The Knight Commission will be chaired by the executive chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) of Tennessee’s State Collaborative on Reforming Education, Jamie Woodson. Also, it will be run by the Aspen Institute.

Who are the commissioners from diverse sectors involved in this Trust, Media, and Democracy initiative? Organizations on the panel include CNN, Kickstarter, Google, Facebook, BuzzFeed, Miami Dade College, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab, and more.

The decision to get major players from these various sectors was deliberate. In our digital era, our news and innovation ecosystem is driven by a variety of players across journalism, technology community, and public information industries. The Knight’s program areas and larger work recognize the need for cross-sector collaboration in creating more informed and engaged communities.

The initiative comes at a dire time when fake news reports continue to run rampant on platforms like Facebook and Google. The New York Times confirmed after the Las Vegas Shooting that fake news once again made its way onto both social networks.

Within the daily’s news report, Google had trolls from 4Chan dedicating their discussion threads to wrongly identifying the suspected gunman that was later picked up by Google’s “top stories” module. These were search results that spent hours on top before their eventual removal.

Facebook, on the other hand, displayed a prominent post from a site called Alt-Right News featuring a safety check page about the Las Vegas massacre. This post also incorrectly misidentified the shooter.

The American daily newspaper concluded, “Facebook and Google have spent billions of dollars developing virtual reality systems. They can spare a billion or two to protect actual reality.”

[Featured Image by Panchenko Vladimir/Shutterstock]