Journalism Trust Initiative: introducing the first 100 newsrooms that bring back trust in news

Representing 33 countries including Canada, DRC, India or Albania, 100 media outlets embarked on a thorough internal review to self-assess their level of transparency, guarantees of editorial independence and processes. This is one necessary step prior to being awarded a conformity certification with the Journalism Trust Initiative (JTI), an international benchmark initiated by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) to fight disinformation by rewarding editorial and professional excellence.

As of July 2023, 100 media outlets have successfully completed the self-evaluation and published their JTI transparency report, all of which can be consulted here. 10 of them are public service broadcasters, including CBC News/Radio Canada, France Télévisions or Colorado Public Radio in the U.S. There is a growing number of community media (AmmanNet in Jordan, Studio Kalangou in Niger or Colorado Sun in the U.S.) and the largest group is formed of newsrooms with 2 to 20 staff. The U.S., the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ukraine top the list of 33 countries of origin for the first 100 JTI transparency reports.

These numbers not only show the growing strength of the JTI dataset. It also highlights that there is a solid interest for a mechanism as stable as the JTI and that it can be of use anywhere in the world, by any kind of media organization or structure.

Christophe Deloire
RSF Secretary General

Media outlets that self-assess with the 18 clauses of the JTI benchmark go through a thorough internal review process. Questions they are invited to answer cover the level of transparency at institutional level (for instance, details about their ownership, sources of revenue, editorial mission, contact details, distribution platforms), the mechanisms they implement to guarantee their editorial independence (the existence of editorial guidelines and how they are implemented, of protections against conflicts of interests, etc.) and the best practices they have adopted as a newsroom (internal and external accountability processes, training/onboarding programs, working conditions, to name a few).

Mapped: 100 media outlets in 33 countries completed the self-evaluation with the JTI benchmark

"The process is well worth it for any media company. Whether they decide to proceed to the external audit or not, the self-declaration forms the basis of what every media should adhere to," said Alice Taylor, co-editor at Exit News, a digital media outlet from Albania that was part of a group of diverse pioneers – SWI swissinfo in Switzerland, GMX News in Germany or The Winnipeg Free Press in Canada – to embark on this process. "The self-evaluation with the JTI benchmark is a serious boost for the development of our media company, which should strengthen the trust of our readers and our partners," said Ukrainian media NikVesti’s editor-in-chief Oleh Dereniuha (Олег Деренюга), which published the 100th JTI transparency report.

In May of 2021, RSF launched the JTI-APP portal where these 18 clauses are presented as Yes/No questions with dedicated spaces for media outlets to provide as many details as possible for each question. Over 600 additional media outlets from a total of 90 countries use this portal for their self-assessment and should publish their report soon. In 2023, supported by its funders, the JTI is expanding to new territories including in Latin America and Asia while specific protocols, like the one powered with NewsGuard in Ukraine, are being devised to address challenges of specific contexts.

Journalism Trust Initiative is also the name of an official ISO-type standard – the CWA 17493 which was officially published in December 2019 by the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) – a first for the news publishing industry. Any media outlet that strives for excellence by referring to the different clauses of the JTI standard has the option to be audited by an external, independent certifier. If it successfully demonstrates its level of conformity, the certifier will award the media a JTI certification that has a validity of 2 years and which 17 publishers have to date achieved. Reporters without borders (RSF) currently distributes financial grants to media outlets that are interested in the audit – details and conditions for applications here.

17 media outlets around the world have obtained a JTI Certification

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