RSF to Implement the Journalism Trust Initiative in collaboration with Microsoft

The international non-profit media freedom organization, Reporters Without Borders (RSF), will work with Microsoft to promote a healthier information ecosystem. Through this collaboration, RSF will help Microsoft integrate and pilot data from RSF’s Journalism Trust Initiative (JTI) to various products to support and elevate news organizations that comply with JTI criteria.

The Paris-based media freedom watchdog, RSF, and the global tech company, Microsoft signed a memorandum of understanding in the summer of 2023 to address shared concerns about the major threats that our common communication and information space faces. This collaboration is based on the implementation of a market solution for the news publishing industry aimed at boosting journalism – the Journalism Trust Initiative (JTI) – thanks to its dataset, which can feed directly into algorithm-based services such as news feeds, search engines, news recommender systems or ad tech software.

RSF will support Microsoft’s product teams in integrating and piloting the use of the JTI dataset in select flagship products to favor the content of sources that align with the JTI criteria. JTI transparency reports and JTI certificates will be leveraged to provide users with a clear signal about the media they consume. Microsoft will also raise awareness about the JTI and promote its usage among 4,500 media outlets and 1,200 publishers and media outlets worldwide they partner with.

The algorithmic distribution of online content does not include an ‘integrity factor’ and amplifies everything that goes against journalistic professional norms. The JTI is the missing link between journalistic principles and methods on one side, and algorithms on the other. It presents a whole new way to code the Internet. We are delighted that Microsoft will start using the JTI in its services and look forward to this collaboration.

Christophe Deloire
Secretary General, Reporters Without Borders

Promotion of and support to trusted local journalism is a critical component to having a healthy information ecosystem. Utilizing RSF Journalism Trust Initiative, we can promote local news sources that follow transparent standards of journalism while also empowering our users with access to trusted sources of local news globally.

Ginny Badanes
Senior Director, Microsoft Democracy Forward Initiative

The Journalism Trust Initiative (JTI) is an international standard for news publishers, launched at the initiative of RSF and designed by 130 international experts as an ISO standard. It includes universally accepted and agreed upon excellence criteria for the identity and transparency of media outlets, and for professional standards and accountability mechanisms that govern their news production. The official reference document of the norm was published in December 2019 by the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN) as CEN Workshop Agreement (CWA) 17493.

The initiative’s aim is to provide users with tools to help them make more informed decisions when they encounter online information that may be false or misleading, and to facilitate user access to tools and information to assess the trustworthiness of information sources, such as indicators of trustworthiness for informed online navigation, particularly relating to societal issues or debates of general interest.

Currently, over 800 newsrooms worldwide use the JTI-APP to self-assess, make the necessary adjustments to best align with the excellence criteria of the standard. The results are summarized in publicly available JTI Transparency Reports’, which to date more than 100 media outlets have published, and 20 have obtained a JTI Certification following a successful external audit. The initiative aligns with the start of the enforcement of the European Union’s Digital Services Act (DSA) on August 25, 2023, as well as the EU’s strengthened Code of Practice on Disinformation, whose signatories include Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and Microsoft.

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